It had been a busy a week at Street Connect with one thing and another. One of the guys we had been working with had ended up back in prison. This was particularly discouraging as we had been working with him for nearly 2 years and he had finally got into rehab. But he soon realised that he wasn’t ready and left after 2 weeks. Unfortunately, he got back into a mess very quickly and ended up in a homeless hostel here in Glasgow. He called the office from prison to ask if someone would pick up his clothes from the hostel as the hostel rule is that if you don’t collect them within 28 days they get rid of them, so I told him that I would arrange to have them collected.
It was a Friday evening when I realised that I hadn’t organised anyone to collect his belongings and it was almost the 28th day. I felt that I had given my word that we would get his clothes for him, so I would do my best to stick by that. I had already contacted the hostel, so they knew I was coming. It was a Saturday morning and Ricky (my husband) had a meeting at the church. As we have 2 young children (ages 2 and 4) I didn’t have any time that morning to make much effort in the way I looked; in Scottish terms, I looked a bit of a state. The plan was to drop Ricky off then go to the hostel to get the stuff then do all the other Saturday jobs. In true typical fashion of a 2-year-old, there were quite a few tantrums, but we managed to make steps forward in the plan despite this. Added to all that was the stress of City Centre parking and having very little change in my pocket, 20p to be exact, which bought me 15 minutes. We parked around the corner and walked to the building, buzzed the buzzer and waited to be let in. Once inside the women were very friendly and explained that that was his stuff in the 3 black bin bags. I picked the bags up and took them downstairs, walked along the street a little and, as if on cue, my 2-year-old took a major tantrum. I walked on a little encouraging her to “come on” to which she defiantly said her favourite word: ‘NO!’
As I stood there in the middle of a busy street with people walking past me, it struck me just how this picture looked. Nobody had any idea my car was around the corner; I was struggling with these black bags and 2 young kids, yet nobody stopped to ask if I needed a hand. In fact, they looked at me and then avoided eye contact. I had a flash back, to when I was in addiction and being moved from hostel to hostel with my life in black bin bags. I remember feeling that life was really rubbish and I had no self-worth. If I already didn’t have any self–worth, carrying those black bags definitely didn’t add any. A mixture of anger and then sadness stirred up in me about how society views such people. I am no longer an addict living out of bin bags, my life is considerably different, and I am grateful for that stark reminder of what life was like when I had nothing.
When I got back to my house, I emptied the bags to sort the clothes and in amongst all the various items that one collects while living in that lifestyle was a book, completely misplaced in everything else, titled … Knowing God. Maybe someone had given him it, maybe he picked it up somewhere himself – who knows – but he was searching for truth, a fellow human being.
I am happy to say that this man went back to rehab and phoned me just the other day to say that he is getting baptised on Sunday. If we had looked with the natural eyes, we would not have believed that this could happen but by believing and having faith in God, amazing things can happen.
It is good to walk as Jesus did among those who society has rejected. Believing and trusting that they can be set free. At Street Connect this is what we seek to do. Whether we are doing street outreach, in the drop in cafes or through the support we provide.