Caring For Each Other

Since my time here in Newmarket I have met an individual who has battled alcoholism for many years.  When I first met him he always came and asked for a toonie (that’s $2 if you’re not Canadian).  His nickname became “Toonie Man.”  After a few years our paths crossed at various points, mostly at the homeless shelter, on the street, at the bus stop, etc.  I could tell several stories about this man, stories like breaking into the church building at 4:00 in the morning that would make you laugh and cry at the same time but I will save these stories for a later time.

Recently this man has been coming to church every Sunday.  During the week he has stopped in to my office almost everyday to have a coffee and to talk church, life, alcoholism, future dreams, what life on the street is like, etc.  In my conversations with him I have learned that he has been without a drink for nearly four months.  I should mention that this is about the fourth or fifth time he has been sober for four months and as he says, “This is a dangerous time for me because I haven’t made it passed four months since I became an alcoholic.”

As I have introduced you to this man I must now say what has happened in his life this past week.  (1) His stay at the men’s shelter in town had expired and he had to go back to living on the streets, (2) He found a room to rent for $500 month but could not come up with first & last (3) The church paid last month’s rent and he paid first month’s rent only to find out four days later that the landlord decided not to rent the room anymore.  (4) His court date for breaking into the church is approaching and he is nervous about this.

Well, life on the streets is tough in the Toronto area and he has been able, with the help of our government to stay at a very cheap motel the next city over from us until he can find a place to rent for the winter (as I write this it is -6o outside). 

I haven’t talked with this man since Friday and I was expecting to see him at church on Sunday but he never showed.  I was expecting to see him at my office today but he never showed.  At 4:00pm I received a phone call from one of his friends (Bruce) who is also a recovering alcoholic.  He introduced himself and told me that he has heard a lot about me and our church and what we are doing for our friend.  After a short conversation he said that he hasn’t heard from our friend since Friday, that he never showed up for work, missed his parole hearing and is not answering his phone.  As I was listening to him talk my heart was sinking because I thought the worse; our friend couldn’t handle the pressure of life and went to drink his life away.  Fortunately after several phone calls I was able to track our friend down and talk with him.  I am glad to say that he has remained sober but is constantly thinking about going and buying the drink.

As I have been thinking about this all evening my mind started to reflect on the conversation I had with Bruce.  Bruce and I are probably one of the few friends our friend has and Bruce was scared about our friend’s life.  He was so concerned that he was calling me, was calling the motel, was calling the local bars, was calling anywhere our friend might be because if he was in trouble Bruce was going to go and help him.

I wonder how different church would be if we had more Bruce’s?  I wonder how different church would be if we truly cared for one another like Bruce cares for our friend.  When someone misses church for more than two or three weeks do we care enough to call them and ask them how things are going in their life?  When our fellow Christians/disciples seem to be falling apart do we care enough to go and stand beside them?  I wonder how different church would be if we went and showed the world that we care for them no matter what they have done.  I think, and this is just my opinion, that we would become more like Jesus.

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Published in: on December 11, 2007 at 2:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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