Over the next week or so I’d like to help our readers get some small glimpses of poverty that exist in our own back yards. I’ve done some research online about the faces of poverty and while I’ve learned much through that research I’ve also come to know that poverty looks different in every community. I’m going to share a few “poverty snapshots” with you in hopes of not only educating the public but also to give the impoverished a voice in the community.
This is the Story of Edgar.
I’ve known Edgar for well over a year and I’ve learned many lessons through him that I hope to share with you over the next week or so. Edgar is homeless and he lives in the woods behind a store and bathes in what he describes as a “spring” that bubbles up from the ground. He does odd jobs at a local restaurant for an occasional meal and stands with the day workers in hopes of being hired. Edgar frequents the outreach I attend each Monday.
Edgar always wears a big smile. It’s the kind of smile that always reaches his eyes. He always greets me with heartfelt hospitality and a warm and sometimes smelly hug. Edgar claims his life is totally dependent upon the grace of Jesus and that Jesus always provides for everything he needs.
About two months ago Edgar came and wished us farewell at the Monday outreach and he told us he was leaving for Florida where people were nicer and he could live peacefully. He claimed that Canton no longer loved him and that he was tired of being harassed by the police. Edgar had recently been arrested and jailed for various infractions. I can only imagine how that punishment felt to a man who is used to living his life on his own terms.
A few weeks ago, much to our surprise, Edgar returned to our Monday outreach. When everyone saw him they shouted his name and gave him a warm welcome home greeting worthy of a rock star. When my turn came to give Edgar a hug he hugged me long and hard…in fact the hug grew to be a bit “awkward and improper” because of its length. When the hug ended I noticed the same smile in his eyes but there was something different there as well. It was a sort of “knowing” that is the product of some life lessons he had obviously learned.
Edgar was truly happy to be back amongst friends and I believe he has discovered he has a family. At the end of our Monday outreach the volunteers usually circle up and pray together however on this day, for the first time in my year of volunteering, Edgar joined us for prayer. Before our circle prayer began Edgar prayed his own prayer while standing in the middle of our circle and I could hear him thanking Jesus in his own mix of Spanish and English. I could also see the thankfulness in his expression while we waited for him to finish his earnest prayer. As he opened his eyes he began wiping away his tears. I think sometimes when your heart grows it hurts just a bit.
Since that day Edgar has come and eaten a meal at Forever Fed’s Canton Adventist outreach and he’s been present at each Monday outreach and he always brings his new Spanish Bible with him. When I look at Edgar’s recent behavior, I think I can finally see the beginning fruit of a year’s worth labor.
I believe Edgar may have discovered he has a family that loves him unconditionally as evidenced by the warm welcome he received. While Edgar’s life journey has been probably been long and very hard lived I believe his newest love journey is just beginning and I praise God that we were all allowed to be part of his life.
Most of us wander this earth a bit lost, searching for a purpose to all the craziness we see each day and many never find what they are looking for because they are searching for the wrong thing!
A wandering heart cannot find rest in a safe place to sleep, or a place to bathe, or even somewhere to eat meals or work. A wandering heart finds a home in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. A wandering heart seeks a home in a loving family, the Body of Christ.