Memories of the Homeless Ministry in Knoxville

What follows has been pieced from the best of my memory. It may not be 100% factually true, but thematically and emotionally it is true. I was a part of a very informal homeless ministry while living in Knoxville TN. I say informal because it had no name, no defined membership, and no mission statement other than to bring the gospel to the homeless. Our usual routine consisted of wandering the streets of downtown Knoxville on Friday evenings. If you’ve never been to the eastern TN city, downtown Knoxville is quite diverse. It consists of everything from ritzy apartments, to hip hangouts for the youth, to back alleys and underpasses where homeless men and women try to survive on the streets. There was one particular homeless married couple who sticks out in my mind. Although they don’t stick out enough to remember their names. I was walking the streets with a friend and an ex-girlfriend when we came across this nameless married couple. My friend had struck up a rapport with them in weeks past, so she was happy to see them. I had met the man once, but introduced myself as if I were a stranger. This man and wife didn’t seem like the typical homeless people. For one they were sober, and didn’t seem intent on asking for money. Instead he had lots of stories to tell, lots of wisdom to give, and even resources to share. My memory doesn’t recall exactly what the nature of the food was, but the homeless man offered my friends and I some sort of nutrition. Think about that, when was the last time someone in need offered you something? It reminds me of the story of the poor widow in the Bible who literally gave her last two pennies towards the work of the Kingdom. After conversing with the man and his wife for a while a third homeless person approached the group. Now this man was what one may typically think of as a homeless man. He had mild physical deformities, and was drunk enough to have his speech slurred while grasping another beer in his hand. Needless to say he did not instill hope in any of us, and actually kind of scared me. I recall him being mildly belligerent towards us, until our homeless friend calmed him down. The belligerent man settled down and eventually left after a few more tense moments, but we were safe. What stick out most in my memory is just how much our homeless friend cared about us. We came to help him with what we could, and in effect he not only fed us, but saved us from a scary situation.

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