It was my last night in Waikiki for Pastor RK’s homeless outreach pizza night. There had been a few people that I had really connected with over the 3 + years I had been going down there off and on and I wanted to make sure I said goodbye.
I got to see Jersey Joe, he always had such a positive outlook on things. And I got to see Cindy who always greeted me with a hug.
I really wanted to see this guy Martin. And Barbara. I didn’t see either of them.
I asked around. A guy I hadn’t met before heard me and described Barbara to me and asked me if that was her. Based on his description I figured it was, and he said she was sitting over by the zoo. I walked with this new guy through the food line and then followed him over to the zoo.
There was Barbara sitting on a bench.
It’s been over a month since this happened, but the conversation went something like this:
“Barbara!” I exclaimed.
She looked at me with squinted eyes, taking a few seconds to register who I was.
“Eh-ta!” She always said that when she saw me, I don’t know what it means.
“It’s my last week, I’m moving to Tennessee but I wanted to make sure I said goodbye.”
She cocked her head to the side and asked me why I’d move to Tennessee.
“Great question.” I responded.
“Sit down, do you want some of my pizza? I’ve got some granola bars here.”
“No thanks Barbara, I just wanted to say goodbye, can I get a photo with you?”
“Sure” she said smiling.
I noticed that she had a black eye, I didn’t ask about it, but it wasn’t the first time I had seen her with a black eye.
The guy that led me over to her said he’d take the photo.
Barbara smiled and joked and then on the last photo kissed me on the cheek as she said goodbye her eyes started to well with tears. “I love you.” She shouted as I walked away.
I said goodbye and walked away and began to tear up as I returned to the pavilion.
Homeless people in Waikiki are valuable to the King of Kings.
And that’s what RK wanted us to do. His objective in handing out pizza every single week for more than 3 years has been to show those people that they are valuable to God. When teams come down, he asks them to find someone, remember their name, ask them how you can pray for them and then come back next week and call them by name and let them know you prayed for them.
I read James 2 this morning. And it convicted me that I need to be involved with the poor here in Tennessee too.
Maybe when we work with the poor, it’s not so much about us helping them. Maybe it’s more about me realizing how much mercy has been extended to me. And through working with them I’m given an opportunity to extend that same mercy and grace.