This Is Your Day To Be There When People Are Hurting | By Rev. Ray Redlich

When Chris and I go out on the streets to minister to the homeless, we never know what each day will bring. It was just eleven days ago that we first saw Joyce (not her real name) sitting alone on […]

When Chris and I go out on the streets to minister to the homeless, we never know what each day will bring.

It was just eleven days ago that we first saw Joyce (not her real name) sitting alone on the porch of an old abandoned warehouse.  She immediately opened up to us when we offered food, water and friendship.  In a short time we learned that Joyce was an alcoholic and lived in another vacant warehouse nearby.  She was familiar with New Life Evangelistic Center and had been homeless for some time.  As she coped with deep inner hurts in her life, Joyce would often make one bad choice after another.  She found solace in the bottle and in her little personal corner of that ugly building where she stayed.

But today things were different.  As Chris and I pulled up to the St. Patrick Center downtown, we noticed an ambulance parked at the side.  A few minutes later we spotted Joyce walking with a bandage on her arm.  She told us that the ambulance had come for her.  She had fallen out from a seizure and somebody called 911.  The paramedics treated her, but Joyce refused to go to the hospital.

Chris and I prayed for guidance.  How can we best help Joyce now?  Then I remembered that Joyce knew Teka, a dedicated worker for many years with BJC Behavioral Health.  Teka had told me to bring Joyce in to her office the next time I saw her.  So we asked Joyce, and yes, she was willing to go with us.

At BJC Joyce was met with gentleness and compassion.  She had come to the end of her rope.  Joyce told Teka that if she has another seizure while alone in the warehouse, that might be the end of her.

And so, in God’s perfect timing and through His kindness through Teka, Joyce was now willing to go to the hospital.  She could see that this was the best thing for her.  Teka gently said to Joyce, “This is your day.”

We drove Joyce to St. Alexius emergency room and waited with her until they took her to see the doctor.  My prayer is that they will admit Joyce and keep her long enough for her to find a measure of healing.

But what then?  Will Joyce have to return to her deplorable warehouse?  True, a worker at the Biddle House is helping her to find permanent housing.  But that has not been achieved yet, and there is no guarantee that Joyce will have a decent place to go when she is discharged.

If New Life Evangelistic Center’s women’s shelter were still open, we could take her in today with open arms.  But sadly, the city of St. Louis shut us down April 2nd—everything—night shelter, day shelter, life skills classes, free store and kitchen.  Here was a place where women and men were finding refuge—not only somewhere to sleep, but also warm, loving friendship in a caring Christian community.  That’s what makes the difference.  And that is what organizations like the Biddle House and other government agencies—as admirable as their work may be—can never offer.

Yes, thank God for caring workers like Teka; thank God that Chris and I are able to go out with food and friendship to the homeless on the streets.  But when will our city recognize that homeless people like Joyce need ministries such as NLEC—safe havens that people in need can come to; reliable landmarks of hope in the midst of an otherwise bleak world.

As we drove out of the hospital parking lot today, I mentioned to Chris that what we are doing is the most important thing in all the world.  Many people aspire to prestigious corporate positions or to be elected to high office; many crave public recognition.  But in God’s sight what we were privileged to do today—to rescue a human life from destruction—is by far the most important.

Thank You for making it possible for Pastor Ray Redlich and other members of the New Life Evangelistic Center’s Team to be there when people are hurting, through the love of Jesus Christ.