Good news to the poor

Yesterday I met him again, my friend Nermin. Originally from the Balkan, now living in Almere in a beautiful part of the city. His place has 6 bathrooms, a huge pond and a basketball court. The only problem: it has no roof. And actually, the bathrooms are the public ones near the Weerwater lake and the basketball court is covered with junk and garbage as if it was the town’s dump. Nermin is homeless. All of his belongings are packed in a (stolen) shopping cart. On top of it a huge ghetto blaster, making it easy to identify Nermin wherever he is going.

So, there he was again. Sitting on the bench at our church, apparently enjoying himself with the people, the sunlight and an old cigarette. He stayed outside while we started the service, but obviously needed someone to talk to. So I sat down next to him, chatting with this homeless, psychotic, alcoholic, dirty, poor beggar. He was clearly in a bad state but also aware of it himself. As always, he asked for money, and as always, I said no. He told about the experience he had had many years ago that convinced him that God existed. I listened to his story, asked some questions, tried to debit a few thoughts to him, invited him to come in and be part of the service. As I prayed for him, he cried.

About half an hour later, I was back in the service, and as it turned out, Nermin had followed me. I noticed him talking to other people after service, but when I met him outside again, he was very confused and left the church, clearly very angry. Later I heard he had been begging inside the church, and that there had been an incident causing people to ask him to leave the building.

Why am I writing all this? Because I actually don’t know what to do. Should I have given him money? I don’t think so. Did it feel good not to give him money? No. Was it right to invite him into the service? I think so. Was it right to ask him to leave? I think so too. Do I want to help him? Yes. Can I actually, really, seriously help him? I don’t think so…

I really wonder: how did Jesus do this? In Luke 4, he starts his public appearance in a church by reading Scripture, applying it to himself and putting the words into practice when he meets a ‘Nermin’ the week after. And honestly, it makes me jealous. I wish Jesus was here to meet my friend Nermin. I wish I could be Jesus to him.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…

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