He’s 19 and he’s 80..

… and they need to talk. When I started spending more and more time on the streets it was primarily to meet a need. The simple need to feed people living on the streets. Honestly that’s still what I’m planning on doing, although I have begun to think more about longer term solutions.

I’m not sure what that means yet, I’ve thought about providing a more intimate place for these guys to live. Maybe 4 guys instead of 50, where some serious mentoring and discipleship might take place. An opportunity for some guys to live in community and learn some skills or just be given a chance to get back on their feet.

There are plenty of shelters in El Paso, but there are too many homeless to actually be cared for. Nick and his buddies along with a number of others live outside. Nick stays under a bridge in a sleeping bag. He sleeps on top of pallets, because when it rains the runoff flows

right through where he sleeps. He didn’t know that until he was awoken one night by a river flowing through his bed.

Nick and I spent an hour at the Percolator where Paseo meets. It’s a coffee shop, but it also serves some great sandwiches, so when I met him downtown, we walked over to the Perc and grabbed some lunch. He’s 19 and left Colorado on the promise of some work here in El Paso. If he had to be on the

streets I’m glad he is here, but I’d sure rather he not be homeless at all. With the winter that Denver has had, El Paso is definitely a better place to be on the streets.

Last night I watched Shawshank Redemption and there is a place in that movie when “Red” an inmate is before the parole review and he says, “I wish I could look at that boy [himself before he commits the crime] and set him straight, tell him how things really are.”

When I look at these two pictures I wish the same thing. I see the beginning of another long life on

the streets and it makes me sad. I look at Robert and wish he could speak to Nick and tell it to him straight, how things really are.

I don’t want Nick to be 80 someday getting coffee from someone like me, because at 19 he never did anything to get off the street.

I often wonder what I can do for these guys, beyond the burrito or lunch. I’m

going to keep doing that, because that’s what God has called us to do, but I think the next time I see Robert I’m going to ask him, “What he’d say to a young guy like Nick? What would he tell him after so many years living on the street?”

I hope I get a chance to see Nick again. I’d like to share some of what Robert has to say. Please continue to pray for me as I engage this population of often forgotten people.

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Posted on March 29, 2010, in In El Paso and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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