Today something amazing happened to me. 

While at lunch with my son, Shaun, we pulled into Chipotle and a man came up to us and asked for bus fare. I offered lunch instead. He came in and joined us. He was dressed poorly and was unwashed, he had no teeth but was proud of his new glasses. He ordered some tacos and thanked me with a fist bump. As we sat and talked, Shaun and I learned his name was Scott. It was difficult to understand him. He confessed he loses everything and people steal what he doesn’t lose. He had no wallet, no teeth, only the clothes on his back and they were not in good shape. He claimed that he could not hold on to anything because he had a problem with drinking. He said he drank a 12 pack per day. I was uncomfortable but something told me that it was my place to talk to him about Jesus. I asked him if he ever tried to quit and he said that he had been to detox at one point. Then he started crying and said that he was not always this way.

I asked him if he ever asked Jesus for help. A young woman (about 23 or so) sitting two seats down looked at me and smiled. Scott said that he should start to pray. I told him if he asked for Jesus’ help that help would come. He said that he used to be in the choir and was an altar boy. He cried again. The woman looked over again with a smile of reassurance. Suddenly I was full and didn’t want any more of my salad. I could only think of how we were going to make a graceful exit back to work. I asked him where he lived. He said, “I have no home.” Shaun asked him if he ever tried the City Mission.

“I can’t go there.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m always drunk and they won’t let me in if I’m drunk.”

I told him that Jesus can help with that and that Jesus loved him. In fact, Jesus sent us to him that day to provide support. I told him that he could go to heaven just like everyone else if he listened to God and tried to do what God wanted instead of what he wanted. Another smile from the angel. In heaven there would be no alcohol cravings and he would be happy and safe every day. Another fist bump.

I saw an exit opportunity and pulled out a five. “Is this enough bus fare to get you where you need to go?” His face was full of surprise and sadness. He stuffed the bill in his pants and started to cry. Fist bump. He thanked me over and over. I told him Shaun and I had to get back to work and he should use the money to get to the City Mission and get sober. He hugged me. He smelled of urine and alcohol. As we got up, the angel spoke and said, “You can join me!” Scott was as confused as I was. Here was a young woman sitting alone at lunch ¬≠willing to befriend a homeless stranger. I could not believe it. Then she repeated herself, “You can sit with me.” She moved over across the table from him.

Shaun and I left in utter disbelief.

Praise God!

Greg Stasik is a retired engineer who is active at his church, Corpus Christi in Round Lake, in the Residents Encounter Christ prison ministry and leads the parish’s Recovery and Support ministry. They meet every third Thursday at 7 p.m. For more details, visit Corpuschristichurch.net.