As I sit here and think about Dan and what his life must have been like I am comforted as I reflect on the one, yet powerful, time I spent with Dan.
I was helping Terry with a Cold Weather Response night. As I drove up to location where we were distributing items for the cold weather, I noticed I was the only other volunteer besides Terry. I was a little unsure of myself being a new volunteer to SYM. As I came around the corner I remember saying to God, "I am not sure how I can help or make a difference, but use me to Your glory." As I got out of the car I knew I had to step up to the plate and get involved. I couldn't stand by and be quiet and hide behind a more experienced volunteer. Terry had his hands full.
Dan quietly appeared and caught my attention. I became curious as to what this guy was all about….what was his story? (He had a cute dog too.) Before I spoke to him, I became engrossed in a conversation he was having with another street-dependent youth. He was talking about Jesus! I learned that this was the second night Dan had been back on the streets after being incarcerated for two months. He was clean and sober. Despite all the reasons to be bitter and reject Jes, Dan, with his sweet spirit, was trying to convince this guy that there was a God and heaven and why he knew it to be so. Dan knew he was loved by Jesus.
I found an opportunity to engage in a one-on-one conversation with Dan. I wanted to know more about him. He had dreams, hope and plans. He showed me pictures of his kids, told me their names, what they were like. He beamed as he talked about each one of them individually while looking at their photos. His plan was to go to CPS the next day to try to locate his children and see them.
Dan wanted to stay sober. He told me he wanted to create more time between his last drug usage and days sober. He told me how he had met someone while in jail that may be able to help him get into a 28-day recovery program. I encouraged him to pursue this as I had been in recovery. We talked with Terry about AA and NA. I went home that night and printed out a schedule of meetings for him which is still in my car hoping for a chance to run into him again.
Dan carried a worn Bible in his backpack. I caught a glimpse of it as I was helping him find a little space to put it in his over-packed backpack.
As I drove home that evening, it became very apparent to me why I was there. God carefully orchestrated this brief encounter for ME. He knew Dan’s days on earth were numbered, but he used Dan to minister to me…as I have been searching God’s will in my life. The impression I made on Dan was dim, even forgetful. This experience for me, however, will forever be ingrained in my soul. You see, it is because of Dan that I realized that this often invisible population are God’s people. Jesus lived among the poor and homeless. He, too, was poor and homeless. I realized that we may come from all walks of life and appear very different, but we are all the same….we are all children of God. I am blessed in many ways, but Dan helped give my life perspective. We ARE ALL God’s children and for once in my life the material things don’t matter. Dan may have had very little and mountains to climb, but he was far richer than I am.
I regret I never saw Dan again. He never knew the impact he had on me. You see, Dan had dreams, hope and GOD and shared his wealth with me!!! Thank you, Dan. I am better today because of YOU. Rest in peace, my sweet friend.