I really wanted to see Martin and say goodbye. He was at the second to last pizza night but not the last one. I told him I was moving to TN, he also responded with a puzzled look and the question why.
We sat on the grass as he ate his pizza and we talked. I asked him if I could pray for him. He stared at the ground and reluctantly said yes as if he was ashamed. I asked him what he needed prayer for and he said he wanted to quit drinking, that he knew he needed to stop drinking. I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him, asking God to help him break free of his addiction. We talked a bit about how his environment will play a huge part in his freedom to addiction. He knew that too, he knew that his friends were a bad influence on him.
When I came back the last Tuesday I was in Hawaii he wasn’t there. But I really wanted to say goodbye. So one night Jess and I and Tyler and Samantha, who had done pre-marital counseling for went down to Waikiki to get some ice cream. I prayed that I would find Martin.
We walked up Kalakaua and found him a few pavilions up sitting with some other guys. He had his head down on the table and was passed out. I tapped him on the shoulder and said his name. He stared up at me with bloodshot eyes and I could tell he couldn’t tell who I was.
“Hey Martin, it’s Jim, I’m leaving for Tennessee soon and wanted to make sure I said goodbye.”
“Bye.” He mumbled.
“Can I grab a photo with you so I can remember you?”
I took a selfie with a very drunk Martin.
“I’m hungry man can you get me something to eat?” Martin asked
“Sure, I’ll grab you guys some mcdonalds is that good?”
All the guys nodded their heads and smiled and thanked me.
Samantha was excited because one of her homeless friends that she had met as a student doing outreach was there and she hadn’t seen him in a while.
Joe who I’ve had a couple of run ins before was talking to Jess. He’s a gospel piano player, always drunkenly singing praises to God and the same guy that accused me of being a cop and then threatening me.
Joe’s m.o is this, he makes sure he separates you from the group, and stands uncomfortably close to you, usually with his hand around your shoulder. Then he speaks slowly and methodically while grinning making sure to monopolize all of your time. As I looked over he was doing this to Jess, and touching her face commenting about her dimples.
We walked to mcdonalds and picked up some stuff off the dollar menu and brought it back. All of the guys were thankful. Joe again had his arm around my wife’s shoulder. I could tell she wasn’t comfortable so I loudly said alright we’re gonna go.
Joe’s demeanor changed. “Hold on wait a minute, come over here man. See I don’t need that food that you just bought but you need to sit down and talk with these guys while they eat.”
I didn’t have the patience to deal with Joe so I shrugged his arm off my shoulder and told him we were leaving in a voice loud enough that everyone else could hear me. Tyler and Sam stopped their conversations and started saying goodbye.
Joe stuck his finger in my face and raising his voice said “you can’t just buy us food and then leave man, you need to sit down.”
“Nope, we’re leaving.” I said firmly and I walked away from the finger pointed in my face
“This is why no one respects you down here.” he snarled as I walked away.
It’s almost like he knew what words would get under my skin.
I walked away angry. Angry that at 8pm Martin was passed out drunk. Angry that a drunk Joe was a master of manipulation. But I was proud of myself for drawing a good boundary and walking away.
Sometimes in doing ministry I think that I have to be overly nice to people and forget that I’m allowed to draw boundaries. I don’t have to listen to drunk people rant about nothing while they are invading my personal space. Dealing with drunk people means they have no boundaries and certainly won’t respect yours. Doing ministry doesn’t mean you’re a doormat.
I’m praying for Martin, I’m praying that he gets set free of his addiction and gets off the streets.