// plea for help

As i was buying my copy of the Big Issue from Dean, one of the sellers who i try to regularly support here in Oxford, i asked him how he was. He told me that his dad died this weekend.

What was i supposed to do, or say? I mumbled some expressions of sorrow, blurted out that i’d pray for him and gave him £2 for the Big Issue. What should i have done?

Walking away, i was conscious that prayer, and my prayer, probably seems inadequate to Dean. Living on the streets, and with my paltry donation to him doing minimal good. On Saturday i blogged about disconnection. Today i modelled it again; i threw money at a problem and walked away from it. I was ashamed enough that i walked back, but that’s not the point…

So here’s my plea. Dean usually hangs out by Phase Eight on the High St; today he was by the Sainsbury’s on Magdalen St. He’s a tall guy, with black hair, and he sometimes has a goatee beard. If do you walk by him today, talk to him. Buy a Big Issue. Pray about it, and consider giving him more. Imagine what could happen if the Christians in this city came together to support this guy, today, not just in disconnected and impersonal ways, but in ways that truly affect his life. Imagine the witness. Imagine the change that it could enact.

If you’re in Oxford, speak to him. And if you’re not, pray for those who will.

Let’s see what happens.

I, for one, am excited.

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    • JoAnna
    • June 17th, 2009

    I’m in Denver, Colorado this summer working as an intern with a ministry among the homeless youth of the city streets, and your post is an echo of many situations I have witnessed or participated in myself, all around the world. I am learning so much by simply hanging out with people on the streets than I ever have in a classroom or from handing out money. I’m excited that you’re catching a glimpse of the possibilities of spending time with people too. Relationships are important. You’re in my prayers.

    • Tom
    • June 17th, 2009

    Thanks Jo; i’m thrilled that you made it to Denver. It is simply amazing how blind we can quickly become even by increments, how we gradually, bit by bit, stop viewing homeless people as people. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be, but i guess you saw some of that in evidence during your time in Oxford…

    Do keep in touch with updates on how your work is going over there, i’ll be praying too. Have you read Shane Claiborne’s “The Irresistible Revolution”? I guess the answer’s probably yes, but if not, it’s a book that i think you’d really enjoy digging into and wrestling with.

    • JoAnna
    • June 18th, 2009

    I have read that book! It was incredibly challenging and I am so thankful that there are writers who will talk about the hard stuff! If you’d like, you can read about my summer on my blog at http://hisbelovedjo.blogspot.com
    🙂

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