*** DISCLAIMER *** this post contains obscene language, which is a reality of working with people that live on the street. If you’re offended by that type of thing I’d turn back now.
I’m blessed that part of my job is to take some of our Discipleship Training Students down to Waikiki every Tuesday night and partner with a pastor that feeds the homeless and spends time with them, listening, talking to and praying for them.
This past Tuesday was crazy. I got there and started talking with Joe, who usually is happy go lucky, positive attitude, nothing seems to shake him. He was scribbling in his journal, and I asked him what he was writing. He was obviously fired up. He told me that he had gotten 3 tickets from the police in the past week, and wanted to tell people his side of the story. Not happy go lucky Joe.
Then as I was sitting there talking to him, an asian guy was holding a baby. There was a local guy sitting next to him, who had a wad of cash out. The asian guy put something in the local guys hand, and then the local guy popped whatever was in his hand in his mouth. I’m pretty sure I saw a drug deal, with the dealer doing it while he was holding a baby in his arms.
I stood in the food line and talked with Martin, who apologized for smelling like alcohol. He showed me his torn up leg from when someone threw a beer bottle at him while he was sleeping. He then told me about how he got in a physical fight with his dad this week. I asked Martin how old he was, thinking he was older than me, I was wrong, he’s two years younger than me. Been on the street for about 10 years.
I saw Barbara who I met last week. Her eye black and blue like she had been punched in the face recently. She got her pizza and left, didn’t want to stick around and talk this week.
When all the pizza had been handed out one of the guys that we met for the first time last week, came up to talk to one of our students. He was being kind of loud saying “your God didn’t answer my prayers, I prayed for a wife and I don’t have a wife, and now you’re out of pizza what kind of God is this?”
RK the pastor always stashes a few pieces at the end for himself and his kids. As RK was taking it out of the box, the guy we met last week, came up to RK and started saying some obscene things. “I’ll suck your c**k for that piece of pizza man.” And he kept saying it, loudly. RK looked at him, confused. All of us were quite taken aback by the situation. “Come on man, is that what Jesus would do? Would he eat that piece of pizza in front of me?” And he repeated the obscene comment again. RK started to take a bite out of the piece of pizza while looking at this guy, you could tell that he was not impressed with this guys obvious lack of respect.
Then one of the girls (maybe in her early twenties, 110 lbs maybe) that is always there with her family (I think she’s the mom of the baby I talked about earlier) yelled the guys name and said come over here and took him out of the pavilion. The asian guy came up to RK and asked, want me to go punch him in the face. RK declined the offer. RK and I discussed what had just happened. “I’m not giving that guy pizza if he’s being that blatantly disrespectful, if he came on time like everyone else, he would have gotten pizza.” RK said.
While we were having this conversation, I guess the girl was beating up the obscene guy. One of our staff said she saw her grab him by the ear and throw him into the sand and hit him a few times, and then one of our other students said he saw the asian guy come up behind him and hit him in the back of the head and then hit him the face a couple of times.
The girl came back and walked up to Pastor RK and said sorry for that guy, and said that that guy would never do it again, and thats how they learn down here. The asian guy came up too and apologized for the guys behavior.
One of the students Dalton, who had just returned to Nepal saw the fight and was enraged. I guess while the lady was beating him up, she said that her kids were around and not to say obscene things. Dalton went over to the guy who had gotten beat up, who said he blacked out when he got hit in the back of the head, his face now bleeding. Dalton is a former drug dealer, and actually confessed and repented to drug use during his lecture phase and went on outreach and successfully completed his DTS. He told me that his heart was really changed in Nepal. That he saw real poverty there and was sad that some guy was willing to sell his body for something to eat. Dalton mentioned that it took everything in him not to scream in the ladies face. He went and took the guy that had gotten beat up and bought him a sub at subway. All the while the lady and her kids were taunting them both… “oh is he going to suck your c**k now?” Dalton thought it was real interesting that the reason she was beating the guy up was because her kids were around, yet now her kids were taunting him, repeating the same obscene comment.
I don’t think anyone knew the complete story. I was doing my best to put the pieces together. I felt like I was working back at my old job at a high school with at risk kids. Some of our students were laughing at the situation, saying that the guy got what he deserved.
I guess someone called an ambulance for the guy up the street.
We debriefed from the night when we got back to our van, and I tried to my best to let the group know the big picture. Dalton shared what he saw, and what he did. I think everyone started to see the reality of the situation. One of the other staff said she felt bad for saying what she said because she didn’t know the whole story. I talked about how we needed to pray that discipleship would happen down there, that we’d show them that resorting to violence isn’t the way to handle things.
Was it funny if the girl just beat him up? Did that guy get what he deserved if it was just the girl hitting him? Did his obscenities justify the girl beating him up? How about the guy hitting him. Was that justified?
When is punishment justified? Are consequences different than punishment? We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. We are all deserving of God’s wrath. If we’ve accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, than we escape God’s punishment and become His son, but children still get loving correction and consequences.
I talked a bit with RK the next morning. He pointed out that middle class people solve issues with our words. People in poverty only know violence. The girl even said, thats how people learn down here. And because of Ohana Hawaiian culture, the girl, and the asian guy thought they were doing the most honoring thing they could, to show RK that they respect him for coming there and feeding them consistently.
So what do you do? No judgement on Pastor RK, he was just as surprised at everything that happened as we were. I didn’t know what to do when the guy was being obscene, I was looking to RK, everyone was looking to RK as to how the situation would be handled. The girl handled it though, but we didn’t know what she was going to do. I guess maybe we had an idea.
Do they teach how to deal with a situation like this in Seminary?