Sunday, March 20, 2011

"He's just a homeless bum"

Something has been preying on my mind for a week. Last week, a contingent from Jubilee Church, under the leadership of the Love Ottawa! team, was on the streets of downtown Ottawa encouraging people we met with a cup of hot soup, a pair of warm socks, a listening ear, and the gospel of Christ. In front of one of the missions I met a fellow whom I will call Ted. He is about 40 years old and hails from Kitchener. He worked for a large road construction firm. When his marriage went south, he took a transfer to Ottawa. Shortly after that he got an infection in his ankle, was admitted to a hospital, and was laid off since he could no longer do the work. When he was released, he no longer had a place to go and ended up on the street, and then at one of the missions.

As Ted tells it, earlier in the week, he had been walking down a street when some guy in a fancy car came roaring up out of a parking garage. Ted fell as he ran out of the way. He admits to yelling a few inappropriate words at the driver, who then stepped out of his car. A witness asked the driver (!), "Are you okay?" As Ted was picking himself up off the ground the driver said to the witness, "Oh, it's nothing. He's just a homeless bum."

Just a homeless bum. An articulate fellow who made some mistakes, who got sick, was laid off, and let out of the hospital on to the street. How many guys are there like Ted, a paycheque or two from living on the street?

As the saying goes, there, but for the grace of God, go I.


Mission Lawrence said...

This is very sad indeed. You're exactly right - without the grace of God, all our resources could evaporate overnight. And we often find there are people who are willing to accelerate our fall and kick us when we're down.

Thank you for your ministry in Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

A few minutes before I read this my husband came inside from putting the recycling out. He told me he saw a man sifting through the bins, looking for empties so he offered him all of our empties we had saved up in the garage. "He looked kind of like our doctor. Same age, wearing glasses. Just a normal guy."

thetimmer said...

It's amazing how people can pass off the street people so easily. But I pretty much ignored them too for most of my life, until I heard about Streetlight in Hamilton. One man I met there, goes to the Wesley Centre (a homeless drop-in) for meals in the winter and is on the road with carnivals in the summer. You just never know.