Daniel: “Hungry, Homeless”
Meet Daniel Beechler. He’s homeless. But he’s still human.
This weekend, I got to be a part of an event called “Epic Weekend” in Lake Charles, LA. This event is where multiple churches get together as one big group and celebrate Jesus together. Now if you just read “church” and “Jesus” and are about to click out of this article because of it, I’d ask you to stay and hear me out…or read me out.
I was the leader of an eighth grade guys group. If you’ve never mentored or hung out with eighth-graders, this is your fair warning that they will not get any of your jokes, let you sleep, let you have a turn on the Xbox, oh, and did I say they won’t let you sleep? Well besides this group of guys doing all of those things, they were also the coolest. As I got to know them, I realized how much they could pour their heart into something.
Anyway, on Saturday afternoon, each group was given a certain amount of money ranging from $1 to $1000. My group received $23. What we were to do with the money was up to us, but there was one rule: we had to show the love of Jesus with it. My group of guys decided to make a care package with the money. So, we went to Walmart and filled a backpack with hygienic supplies like toothbrushes, fingernail clippers, bathing items, etc. We decided that we would just drive around our city until we found someone who needed it, and if there’s one thing that almost every city has, it is poverty.
Finally, we found Daniel. He was standing at the end of the parking lot of Walmart holding a sign that said “homeless, hungry.” While people in cars were stalled next to him waiting for the light to turn green, they avoided eye-contact. My group of guys were` overjoyed that we finally found someone to share our package with. We parked right next to him, got out of the car and waved him over to us. At first, my guys were a little scared, because many had never done something so radical. I told him that we had a package for him, and we wanted to just sit and talk with him. He excitedly accepted this offer. So, we sat. Daniel, me and a bunch of eighth-graders. Just talking. Just listening.
Daniel is quite a smart and funny guy. I said “Hey, Daniel, I have a water bottle in my car. Are you thirsty?” He replied “Well does the bottle have any water in it??” We talked for about an hour with him telling our stories, and listening to his. One of the things that stuck out most to me was when he said, “I never thought I’d end up here, it’s embarrassing and I hate begging for money and food.” Finally, as we were about to leave, he asked if he could pray for us. I’m almost immobile at this point. In his prayers he thanked God for everything that he’s been given, this was quite convicting for me. Someone who only owns the clothes on his back, is thankful for simply that.
I’m not writing this article to lift myself or my group up. I’m not writing this article to make anyone feel bad. I am simply writing and experience that had a huge impact on me. Homeless people may look, smell and act differently than us, but they are people nonetheless. We didn’t really satisfy Daniel’s immediate need, (hunger) but we did talk with him. And sometimes, that’s all it takes. Everyone, no matter race, background or socioeconomic status, needs someone to talk to every now and then. I hope that when we encounter a situation like this, we might act differently from hearing Daniel’s story.