Posted by: Matt Norton | February 4, 2009

Life on the streets

When I moved into Jeff Street I met a resident named Juan.  He seemed like an incredibly friendly guy.  After a few times talking to him he told me about  coming to America from Mexico.  We also talked about God, his accident (he’s blind), what’s he’s done and where he’s been.  We became pretty close pretty quickly.  Whenever I would see him I’d say hey, mucho gusto de verte. (It’s great to see you-He taught me it)  We’d chat and he’d always have some energetic and exciting words to share. I loved to talk to Juan.

A few weeks ago Juan was caught drinking a second time, which resulted in him being kicked out of Jeff Street.  I was very sad that we had to let him go because I knew that I’d miss our conversations.  I also knew that it is much safer for him here than on the streets.

Last week I saw Juan for the first time in a while.  He looked horrible.  He probably hadn’t shaved in a week.  His clothes were dirty.  He looked tired and to top it all off I heard him say to a friend that he hadn’t showered in a week.  I was sad that things he looked so bad, but happy he was safe.

I saw Juan a second time last week and it was worse than the first time.  When I saw him he looked nearly the same but more frantic.  He pulled me aside and said that he needed to talk to me.  He said there was a guy who repeatedly threatened to jump him. He wanted me to call the cops.  Before I was able to do anything the guy he was talking about came over and heard us talking about him.  The guy walked closer and Juan’s first reaction was to fight, so he threw a punch.  The scuffle didn’t last more than a few seconds but it was enough.  Our policy about fighting is that it leads to an automatic suspension, so we had to put Juan out.  His instincts kicked in after all the stress he is/was under and caused him to make a poor decision.

I see people who live on the streets daily.  It scares me to death to think about putting myself in their shoes.  I saw first hand that the streets can turn a jovial non-aggressive man into one just trying to survive.  I need to realize every day how blessed I am for what I have and how I live.  Please pray for everyone who is living on the streets.  Pray that God would fill them with love, hope, grace, peace, and patience as they struggle for their lives.  Let us not forget our blessings and let us seek God in every day and in every moment.

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