If you have no idea who my friend Daniel is, you can play catch-up by reading this. My husband also posted this Facebook update the next day:
“In regards to my wife’s recent posts, here’s an update on our friend Daniel…This morning we went to his intersection and hung out with him for a bit. He wasn’t in his normal spot because a couple kids were hurling insults at him. Heartbreaking… However, some nice man had just bought a big breakfast for him at Burger King. His spirits seemed to be high enough. We started talking about a career, and it seemed obvious that he’s ready to take the next step. Monday morning, we’re taking him to South Bend’s vocational rehabilitation center to begin the search for a job. More than anything, we want to see this man thrive, we want to see him take his life back, and he seems to want the same.”
Daniel didn’t go with us on Monday morning. He claimed to have already gone (by bus) and that Vanessa (the lady he meets there at vocational rehab) was out of the office. We bought him Gatorade, beef jerky, and a banana, then chatted for a few minutes before saying see ya later. I meant to call and see if he had been there that morning or if Vanessa was really “out” or if his story was complete BS, but I never got around to it. E reminded me that none of those things really matter. Our job is to love him where he’s at.
This morning, I went to see Daniel, but he wasn’t on either corner like he usually is. Instead, I saw two other men standing in those spots. I got my Starbucks coffee with my mother-in-law and we hit the road to Chicago. In case you are new around here, it might make more sense if I told you that my husband, E, and I are still on the search for an apartment in the city since we’re moving August 1st!
The hunt for a semi-affordable-bigger-than-600-square-feet-apartment in a decently cool area of Chicago has proved to be much harder than I ever anticipated. Luckily though, E and I have a great realtor helping us named Natalie! She’s a blast and I would strongly recommend people using her if they want to buy or rent in Chicago. 🙂 Anyway, my mother-in-law (aka: Momma Carp) and I came back from the city exhausted, but right away I spotted him.
“There’s Daniel!” I exclaimed. “Do you want to meet him real quick? I’m going to go say hi and see him for a quick second.”
Momma Carp walked over to Daniel with me and I introduced them to each other. He was sweaty, burnt, dirty, and of course a little bit stinky. He let us know that he had just missed the bus. I offered him a ride to wherever it was he needed to get to. He gratefully accepted.
We said bye to Momma Carp (who gave me a $10 bill to give to him and made sure I was really OK taking him home) and headed in the direction of Daniel’s wife’s uncle’s home. I’m telling you I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. He opened up to me a bit more about his disability, which I can’t pronounce, so if you’re reading this to check how legit his story is, you’ll have to come to the corner to meet him yourself ;). He shared more with me about his upbringing, too. I told him that we weren’t that much different once again because I, too, had witnessed domestic violence as a young child. I think that surprised him. Right before we arrived at the small home he pointed to drop him off at, I asked him if his wife knew about me or would care that I was giving him a ride. He said she knew all about me and thinks E and I are kind for wanting to help.
I put the car in park and said, “Daniel, can I be straight with you?”
“Well, ya, sure…” he replied.
“Do you want a job or not? I know you’re waiting on disability and I get that you are in a tough position, but if I could help get you a job where you were off your feet and the people were willing to work with you and train you, would you take it?”
*He almost answers, but then my big mouth continues.*
“Please be honest with me. Because the truth is, you are an inconvenient friend to have, but no matter what your answer is, I’m going to keep reaching out to you, even as my inconvenient friend. Because I see potential in you and because you’re a really nice person and regardless of what lifestyle you choose to live, you’re now a friend of mine.”
I almost mentioned my faith in Jesus, but decided to hold off based on previous comments that he’s made to me about where he stands religiously.
He cracked a smile, maybe even laughed under his breath a bit. Then he said, “Yes. Yes, I want a job. I’ll take your help. I want to take some classes or something to help me ’cause I’m no good with computers. Can I give you a phone number? You can reach me by this number when I’m not out at the corner, but only if there’s prepaid minutes on it.”
He gave me the phone number. I told him to put some minutes on it. I said, “We’ll chat soon!” and we said our see ya later’s once again.
I drove home with a smile on my face and prayed aloud for Daniel. I praised God for helping me to see people through his eyes and not my own. I praised him for giving me one of the most hands on missions that I’ve ever had. I prayed that anyone who reads this post who longs to be a missionary realizes that you can be one right in your own hometown. I never in a million years would have called myself a missionary, but I do believe that this is just another way to follow Jesus….to befriend to lonely, the oppressed, the poor, the hungry, the broken. I don’t see Daniel as my project or my charity case. I see a man who is regaining hope in a hopeless world. A man who is feeling loved and seeing the light in a dark, lonely place.
I beg you to rise up with me.
I’m warning you that it will be inconvenient. And probably smelly, too.
I ask for your prayers over him right now.
If you’re local to me (South Bend/Mishawaka/Granger/Elkhart) and you have a contact, or own a business, or know someone who is willing to take a chance on employing Daniel with a job that will work with his physical limitations PLEASE comment on this post or email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. I not only want to see Daniel in a better state financially, but mentally and spiritually as well. I know our community is able to give second (third, fourth, and fifth) chances to people who maybe don’t even deserve one. Let’s show radical love and change lives.
Thank you for reading as always,