I was sitting in the beautiful Miami, Florida sun sipping my $6 Starbucks salted caramel white mocha. My husband Vance and I were on vacation. We had walked a few blocks from our hotel on the beach over to the Lincoln Road Mall. Which really isn’t a mall but a street that has been cut off from traffic and has a mile of cafes, outdoor restaurants and shopping.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly gentleman slowly pushing his wheelchair our way. I had a bit of anxiety rise in my chest.
He was homeless.
Wheeling up to our table, he asked if we had a dollar he could have to buy food. I was just going to hand him a dollar, but something caused me to ask him how he was doing? The homeless man sat and talked to Vance and me for about fifteen minutes. He told us his name was Downtown Don.
Don had once been a hardworking citizen, but one day he fell from the scaffolding on his construction job and broke his leg. His leg never healed properly and he was wheelchair bound from then on. Don lost his job, and his life slowly fell apart after that. Eventually, he lost everything and ended up on the streets of Miami.
It sounded like a bad movie, but I believed Don.
He kept saying, “God bless you,” so we asked him about his faith. He proclaimed that God was kind and loving. Don said God had been good to him and he had nothing to complain about.
His faith floored me. He had been put to the ultimate test. He was like Job in the Bible, everything dear to him was gone. Yet he had decided to love God not for what he had given Don but for who God was.
A couple of years later we were in Miami again, and we looked for Don each day, but could never seem to find him. On our second last day, we stood at a crosswalk. I looked across the street, and a man was sitting in a wheelchair outside the drug store. I pointed to him and asked Vance if he thought it was Don. He said he didn’t know if it was him.
When we crossed the street, I told Vance I was going to take a closer look. The man was slumped in his chair with his head hanging, and he was underweight. I stepped closer.
“Are you Downtown Don?”
He lifted his head.
“Yes, I am.”
I looked into his eyes. Yes, it was him, but he had lost so much weight. We reminded Don we had met him a few years before outside the Starbucks. He looked at us both, and a dawning came over his face.
“I remember you.”
No one ever remembers me. People always recall my big, handsome husband. We asked Don how he was doing? He said he had been sick the past few months and had been in the hospital for a while. We handed him some money. His eyes lit up.
“I haven’t eaten since yesterday, I will go buy some food right away, I’m hungry. Thank you, God bless you!”
Don shook my hand, I felt like I was shaking the hand of an angel. My throat had a massive lump in it. We said goodbye. I knew it may be our last visit ever with Don.
He is the homeless man that a thousand vacationers passed by every day on the streets of Miami. They did not know a man of great faith sat on a corner hungry. If they had stopped, they would have been blessed by Downtown Don.
Last week we were in Miami, and I didn’t see Don anywhere. My eyes searched the streets as we walked. It’s doubtful he lasted another year. Sadness filled my soul. But hope also resided there. Maybe Don now walks the streets of heaven, his legs are restored, his belly is full, and he has been honoured by God for his incredible love and faith in him💗
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
-Matthew 25: 34-40
Believing and hoping,