Today is Sunday. The phone rings at 7:45 this morning.
“Can I speak to Peter Ward? Is this Peter? I don’t know if you remember me. My name is Reggie, from the homeless shelter. You guys used to serve us meals, and you would sit and eat with me.”
Of course, Reggie. Reggie was great at memorizing scripture. He used to run through his verses for Peter as they ate.
“Do you remember last year when I was at the Greyhound bus station, and you were there?”
Hard to forget. That had been one of those very unexpected stories. Peter had gotten back a day earlier from a trip to Thailand. He was completely jet lagged, but needed to leave for Peru in a couple of days, to be there in time for Easter.
He had gone to the Greyhound terminal to pick up some supplies for the team to take to Lima. When he arrived at the pickup desk, the sign read Closed for 15 Minutes.
Just then he heard someone call out from across the big waiting area, “Hey Pastor!” As Peter turned, there was Reggie walking toward him, with the look on his face of a lost child who has found a friend. “Man, God is at work. Of all people to see you!” said Reggie.
Peter gave him a huge hug.
Reggie was feeling overwhelmed. He was a recovering drug addict who had ended up homeless in Miami. Now he had graduated from the program at Broward Outreach Center and was on his way “home” to North Carolina. Returning to a not very helpful family. To face his old demons.
He was feeling scared. What if he didn’t make it? What if he fell again?
Pastor Peter listened, and walked with him.
“Do you have what you need for the trip?” he asked Reggie. He already knew the answer, he could see Reggie had bare minimum belongings with him. (As Peter says, Hey you know me, I’m African, that is always the first question – do you have what you need for the road?)
“Okay, let’s go get you some stuff.” Peter and Reggie jumped in Peter’s car and headed to Walgreen’s. When they left the store, Reggie had a bagful of toiletries, snacks, drinks and anything else he might need for that long bus ride home. Peter also gave him a twenty.
Back at the terminal they prayed together. Peter prayed for strength for Reggie, reminding him of God’s love and care over his life. Gave him a pep talk, told him to stay on the straight and narrow, to be careful of who he hangs out with. Reminded him of how far he has come, how much he has grown.
They noticed the pickup desk was once again open. Time to retrieve the boxes. Together they loaded up the truck.
Peter gave Reggie his cell number, and told him to call and let him know how he’s doing. Then they said their goodbyes, another hug, and Peter left.
Now this Sunday morning phone call, one year and three months later.
Reggie says he is doing very well. He is plugged into a small church. He works at a halfway house, overseeing one of the homes. He has to constantly be careful with his friends and family, who are still up to their old ways. He is strong.
“I just want to thank you for what you did for me that day. That was the greatest miracle that ever happened to me. Thank you for being there. You showed me that God was for me. I just felt strongly I should call you today and let you know you are doing God’s work.”
Do angels make phone calls?
(Oh, and wow, 15 minutes can go a long way, can’t they?)