Matthew–A Crack Addicts Road to Recovery–How it Began

I spent last Saturday at one of Atlanta’s more colorful (read: friggin’ dangerous) parks with some volunteers from Church on the Street.

The purpose was to spend some time being with some of our homeless neighbors, share some cake, some coffee and just treat them like human beings that matter.  I frequently do this on my own.  I give out socks and granola bars whenever I can.

I asked Pastor Andy Odle what would make this morning a success.  “If you make a connection that’s meaningful.” he replied.  I set out to do just that.

Pastor Andy Odle Presiding Over His Parish

A mess of a man walked up the sidewalk.  He was wearing red sweat pants, a wife-beater t-shirt, a dirty winter coat, no socks and his aroma arrived before he did.  He was extremely shy.  I introduced myself, offered him a fresh pair of socks, some cake, some coffee and most importantly, a real conversation.  His name was Matthew.

Matthew’s story, like so many others, was tragic beyond comprehension to those of us that reside in the safe, insulated and curtained ‘burbs.  I didn’t care what his story was.  I cared that he was a human being and was hurting.  We shared stories and became friends.

I introduced him to a friend of mine, Gary Tucker–Director of Retreat from the Street.    Gary offered Matthew some prayer and some tough love.  Matthew was ready to receive both.

GaryTucker-His Brother's Keeper and Finder of Lost Children

I got a phone call from Gary this morning that literally brought me to tears.  Matthew has been visiting Retreat From the Street every day since Saturday.  He’s been clothed and fed. This morning Matthew was admitted to a drug rehab program with the help of the Gateway Center. After Matthew completes his rehab, he is eligible for residency in a half-way house and job-training.

Matthew is on his way to being off the streets and out of your backyard!

This happened because we treated Matthew like a whole human-being whose life mattered.  We offered friendship–not judgment.  If we had not been in the park Saturday, today Matthew would be continuing to struggle with a life that was spiraling down hill.  He’d still be living on the streets fighting to survive in conditions that most of us can’t imagine.

I’m no bible-thumper and I don’t attend church.  I keep my beliefs close to my vest, but sometimes, events are obvious.  This doesn’t feel like an accident or a coincidence.

Enter God.

The program that made this possible for Matthew could use a couple of your dollars.  Let’s start with $1.  You can spare a buck.  If you can’t, let me know and I’ll give you one of mine.  Hit this link for Church on the Street and/or this link for the Gateway Center–both really important and worthy organizations that need our help.  Hit the donate button on their web page.  Don’t even think about it.  Do it.  Right now.

There’s something else I need you to do.  Please forward this post to your friends–better yet, post on your facebook.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Cheers!

Jim

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