The Outer Circle team in San Francisco focuses on the homeless population in the Haight area and Golden Gate Park. Every Monday morning, we set up a picnic in the park where we serve pancakes, oatmeal, and coffee to all of our homeless friends. On Thursday, we go to the park to hang out and catch up with our friends there. On Friday, we go to the park to worship God and pray over all the people living there.
I have met so many amazing people in my time in San Francisco. I've seen how the team operates, living in community together and proactively working to make a difference in the city. I've been touched most by the way the people in the park have such an obvious level of trust and respect for the Outer Circle team. Over the nearly 20 years the team has been here, they have come to be known for their heart of service and lack of ulterior motives, which people living in the park are wary of at every moment of their daily lives.
In my short time here in the city, I've seen God working in the lives of people who have been homeless for years. Many struggle with severe addiction, mental illness, physical ailment, and trauma. They all surely know the name of Jesus, but had not seen a physical example of the Gospel until they met the Outer Circle team.
The event that touched me the most happened a few weeks ago, on a Thursday when I was in the park with Claire, the leader of the team. We were sitting with a group of friends, and found that one man, whom I will call Brad, was in a really bad place. He had been punched in the face that morning for no good reason, and had decided to take action to obtain a gun to shoot the man who had punched him, and then shoot himself.
Claire managed to talk him into coming over to the house instead. We got ice cream and played games for a little while, then Brad took a nice long nap. He drinks a lot, and was not fully himself at the time he arrived at the house. He stayed for several days, and seeing him slowly grow more sober was a beautiful sight. He was an electrician by trade, and the basement flat was in need of electrical work. Of course he couldn't do such work while under the influence of alcohol, so not only did he sober up a bit, but he seemed so excited to do work that he was good at. He seemed so fulfilled during the time that he was able to contribute in his own way, and then spend his free time hanging out with the team living in the house.
Over the course of his time with us, we were trying to push him towards flying home to see his family. His mother even offered to buy his plane ticket, but he seemed to be wrestling with the idea. He would bring up the idea of going, and when one of us would encourage him to see it through, he would come up with all kinds of excuses why it wouldn't be a good idea.
We all knew that it would be the best thing for Brad to go home to his family. We hoped that it would be the experience he needed to inspire him to get sober. More than anything, we wanted him to see that has something to live for.
After several days staying with us and much talk of just going back to live in the park, Brad finally decided to get on the plane and go home. Our prayers had been answered.
I'm so grateful to God for having His hand on the situation. I'm so blessed to be a part of saving a friend's life and helping him take the steps he needed to get to a better situation. I keep praying for him that God will fully reveal Himself to him, and will continue to give him the motivation to keep living.
When I go home, I will be taking this experience with me, never forgetting how I saw God at work in the lives of our friends whom most of society view as write-offs, as worthless riffraff. It has become more clear to me than ever that these are the people whom Jesus Christ would be sitting, talking, and eating with were he born here in San Francisco right now instead of in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. I will continue to live and love amongst the rabble who are looking for something to live for. I hope that by God's grace I can show them what that something is.