Blistering Sunburn, an Ambulance, and a Drunk Preacher. Pt 1.
A car accident I came upon in Columbia MD in 2008.
Every Tuesday night I take a team of our students down to Waikiki to do street ministry. There is never a dull night…
We had just returned from our “Wilderness Wandering” camping trip. When we headed to the van to jump in, all the students complained that they were tired, I was tired too. I told them that we’d just take it easy this week, and instead of me dropping them off where I usually do, we would park all together and go from there.
I went to go see Jim who is always on the same bench. He is always pleasant to talk to, which is not always the case with everyone we run into down there. When I came up and said hello, I noticed his legs were covered in broken blisters, and he was swollen. His arms and hands had open sores on them too. I kept my distance, fumbling with the hand sanitizer I had in my pocket, with which I wanted to take a bath in right there. I asked him what happened, he responded it was sun burn, from sitting on that bench all day. Flies were crawling all over him. He then went on to tell me how much pain he was in and how he was throwing up blood last night. I told him I was going to call an ambulance for him. He insisted that I didn’t do that. He told me someone else had already tried earlier and he told them he didn’t want help.
I stood there and talked with him some more. I realized that I couldn’t just walk away. If something serious happened to this guy, I would feel responsible. I told him that, I told him that I cared about him, and that I enjoyed seeing him every week and it was something that I looked forward to. He was quite taken a back by that. I think it had been a while since he heard anyone say that they cared about him.
The ambulance came, and they checked his vitals. They told him multiple times that he needed to go to the hospital to get checked out. That throwing up blood and the pains in his stomach were not normal and he could have internal bleeding and that the he could die tonite. His response, “that’s the easy way out.” They had him sign a document saying that he refused to go, I had to sign the document too as a witness. I stood there on the verge of tears, angered and upset. I realized that there was NOTHING I could do to change this guys mind to actually get the help he needed.
Like, (lee-kay \ R.K’s wife, the couple that hosts this outreach) came down and sat next to Jim. She put her hand on top of his and talked to him for a while. Since he was unwilling to go to the hospital, Like offered to clean out his wounds. I stood there amazed. Like and RK are the real deal. They give out their cell phone numbers to the people they are ministering to in the street, they go the extra mile, and they get their hands dirty. They are willing to get down on their knees and clean out the infected wounds of a dirty, 60 year old homeless man. I’m really really challenged by that.
I said goodbye to Jim and went back and found one of my students… read part 2 here.
Engage: Go read Deuteronomy 15:11 and let me know how you think that verse applies today. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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