“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” – Matthew 25:35-40
“Sir, excuse me, excuse me sir” Clarence yelled as he crossed the street towards me, “can I ask you a question?” Sure I said, “How can I help you?”. “Well sir,” Clarence continued, “would you buy me a cup of coffee?” I am happy to buy you a cup of coffee I told him. “How about something to eat too?” I asked. “Yes sir, yes sir a brownie or something would be good.”
We walked towards the coffee shop and I introduced myself to Clarence and asked if he was homeless. “Yes sir” he replied, “been homeless for a week now. Living in an empty house.” What do you mean by empty I asked. “You know, ain’t nobody there. It’s empty.”
Clarence had on clean clothes, old but clean. He didn’t smell but had the cloudy eyes of someone who had spent their life working in the sun and maybe had a fondness for a drink now and then. Hard years were etched on his face and his hands were rough and calloused. By his appearance, I would have guessed he was somewhere between 65 to 70 years old.
When we got to the door of the coffee shop I held it open for him and he looked at me, “I’ll wait out here if you don’t mind bringing it to me.” That’s fine I told him. I bought him a large coffee and a chocolate muffin.
When I came back out he was sitting on the wall smoking a cigarette. He snuffed the cigarette out as I approached and put it in his pocket. How old are you I asked. 58 he said. Shit I thought, this guy is just a year older than I am. Do you drink? Used to he replied, don’t anymore he told me. I didn’t ask why. No drugs? “No sir”, he said “never done drugs.”
Clarence told me he was a laborer, mostly construction. He liked doing sheet-rock work. He smiled, displaying a mouth full of missing teeth, and told me he was a good mud and tape man if I knew what that meant. I said I did. He had been working for a man for about six months but the man disappeared owing Clarence money. He hadn’t been able to find anymore work because he didn’t have a car and the bus system “wasn’t too good”. He was paying $25.00 a week for a room but he got locked out last week. The man who owned the place wouldn’t let him get his work clothes so he picked up a few things at the Rescue Mission, “got em in bag over there” he pointed towards no place in general.
I sat next to Clarence as he ate his muffin. I ran through all of the agencies and places I could think of that might be able to help him and he acknowledged each one. As he finished up I asked, “What do you need most right now?” His answer was quick and simple, “A job.” And you can’t find one because, “I ain’t got no car or room.”
We sat together, talking for about ten minutes when he blurted out suddenly “I got to move”. When I asked why, he said the police will be here to run us off pointing at the other men sitting at random tables in the courtyard. I told Clarence I wish there was more I could do to help him. I encouraged him to go to an agency just down the street and even offered to drive him there if he wanted to go. “No sir”, he said “I am good. You done enough.” I told him I didn’t do anything really and he grinned and said “You gave me something to eat.”
Monday night Trump told a group of evangelical leaders in a closed-door meeting that there would be “violence” if the Republicans lose the House in November. “You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got. They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”
Trump went on to proclaim that “The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable. Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them. This Nov. 6th election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”
Read that again, “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them.”
Some where on the streets of my city is a 58-year-old man named Clarence. He is homeless, hungry, and unemployed. I sensed no hatred or anger in him only hopelessness. What has Trump done to make Clarence’s life better? Nothing. In Trump’s vision of the world Clarence doesn’t even exist.
You and I have spent an estimated $77,000,000 over the last 18 months so that Trump can golf almost every weekend. Do you have any idea how many homeless people I could house, clothe and feed with $77,000,000? “I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Rather than sharing a message of charity and grace with sanctimonious “Christians” Monday night Trump scared them, threatened them with tales of violence and persecution if they didn’t work to keep him in power. This is where we are. This is how far Christianity has fallen and sadly, will continue to fall.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”