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Bob the homeless guy

About a year ago I started seeing a homeless guy holding a “work wanted” sign at the exit of a nearby interstate. It’s on the way to where I food shop, so I’d see him a couple of times a week. Since I try to ride my motorcycle there when I can, I would pull up close to him and nod hello.

One day we shared friendly greetings. Then the next time I saw him I stopped and we talked a bit. He had had an accident that put a steel pin in his leg. He lived under a nearby bridge. His name was Bob.

Despite his unbelievably difficult life, Bob kept in pretty good spirits and seemed clean. He occasionally would rent a motel room to stay warm in the Winter and to clean up. The winter in New England last year was absolutely brutal, and often I was in pain just thinking about what Bob was going through.

At one point I asked Bob if he wanted some of my old camping equipment, including my tent. He thanked me, but replied that if he had anything the kids riding dirt bikes on the railroad bed would steal it while he was out looking for work. Can you imagine being a middle class kid and stealing from someone so down on his luck? Amazingly, Bob told me this with a smile on his face. I was less sanguine.

Somehow Bob survived the Winter, and he seemed pretty well this Spring. But the last two times I saw him he had radically gone downhill. He’s been drinking, smoking, hanging around the mall, spitting on the sidewalk, and he looked dirty and disheveled.

I think the economy is what has gotten to him. Bob had the endurance to hold a sign up to countless cars, asking for work, even in the bitter cold. He wasn’t trying to scam the system or be a parasite. He was willing to work for his keep. But right now there’s precious little work to be found. And now Bobs appearance is going to be a major impediment to anyone hiring him.

In other words, Bob is falling through the cracks before my very eyes. I’m watching a human being being destroyed. How can this happen in America?

I’m not for socialism at all. I have no faith in Obama’s vision of bigger government. Any societal faith I have is in God working through the church.

Unfortunately government has poisoned charitable work by its social services. People are so overtaxed, and don’t give more because they believe that government will just take care of the problem for them. And government entitlements punish any steps by clients toward self-reliance. It’s a huge demeaning trap.

And the church has become so dependant on the government and its almighty IRS tax deduction, that it is nearly powerless to change lives. We turn our attention to prosperity preachers and glam ministries – and that’s ok in its place – but we are neglecting the most fundamental thing – loving our brothers in distress.

You’ve probably heard the story of the wealthy medieval church. An accountant was giving a report of the church’s great wealth to a pope, and commented that Peter could no longer say “silver and gold have I none”. The pope responded, “but neither can he say ‘in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk'”.

I don’t know what to do about the problem. I’ve cried at my inability to help Bob. I believe this is something that the church collectively needs to deal with. While no individual can do it alone, paradoxically the church needs individuals who will step out and lead.

America is beginning to pay for her sins. 35 years of abortion. Prayer and the Bible kicked out of schools. All manner of ungodliness rampant in the culture. Divorce and immorality and welfare and socialism. It’s all catching up to us, as we watch our institutions and our prosperity unravel.

Lot pitched his tent toward the rich green fields of Sodom, but in the end those luscious fields were sown with brimstone and Lot lost everything.

If a person like Bob, who wants to pull his own weight, can go down unnoticed in our society, I don’t think were too far behind.

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  1. August 23, 2009 at 5:19 am

    My brother in the Lord Jesus Christ .. Many circumstances apply, such as bob around in the world, he is also my place, poverty, surely obstruction. What we need
    make only pray and be thankful with what is while awaiting the coming of the Lord is the second time

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