Mercy on the Streets

“I have been in Seattle for ten days,” Eddie said. “I am looking for a job. I am a heavy equipment operator and I can’t find any work so I have to sleep here [points to the sidewalk].”


Homeless Mercy 3 - sleeping on the streets

Men sleeping on sidewalk across from Union Gospel Mission

On Good Friday, a few of us went down near the Union Gospel Mission in Downtown Seattle to show mercy to the homeless. We were prepared to hand out sleeping bags that were donated by several readers of our blog. We weren’t prepared to be as impacted so meaningfully by the men we encountered. Our strategy was not to chuck the sleeping bags out of the back of my truck Kamikaze-style, but rather, to walk up to those who appeared to be homeless and to dialogue about their needs and then offer them a sleeping bag and a vitamin water.

I first encountered Larry, a self-proclaimed drug addict who was obviously angry at the world. I liked Larry, even though he yelled at me a few times. We took a walk toward Pioneer Square and he told me about all of the homelessness in the area. He was honest and articulate—only interrupting himself to yell at others across the street. He said he ran away from home at 15 years old because he father beat him, got addicted to Heroin and has been on the streets ever since. Larry has no intention to get off drugs or to get a job.

Eddie was from Guatemala. He didn’t speak English fluently, but communicated that he had his green card and was having a hard time finding work. Eddie received our first sleeping bag and is pictured below.


Homeless Mercy - Eddie

Eddie is looking for work


Monterey Mexico man (I couldn’t pronounce his name even after he repeated it three times) had been in Seattle for 8 weeks. He thanked me over and over for giving him a sleeping bag and asked if I knew of any work he could do.

Five college students from the Univ. of Washington came down to help me talk to the men and to hand out water and sleeping bags. They were encouraged by the lucidity of the men and were moved by their stories. They helped James, an aging homeless man get to the hospital. He lugged his new sleeping bag along with him. Two of the guys took another man to get something to eat and paid for it out of their own pockets.


Homeless Mercy 4

Three college students were entertained by the story told by Henry


Phil talked to me about how that he was in the program of the Union Gospel Mission and that he had been helped tremendously by staying faithful to their policy of no alcohol and no drugs. He was a construction worker but was out of work because he injured his knee. He said that if it wasn’t for the UGM, he would be dead. He is trying to get back to work and get off the street.


Union Gospel Mission sign


The Union Gospel Mission serves three hot meals a day and provides a mat for the the men to sleep in two large rooms. They have limited space and limited funds but they do a great job of helping the men to get off the street and being productive in society. The three men that ran the evening program were all graduates of the UGM program. One of them attends the downtown campus at Mars Hill Church. They were serving the men out of deep empathy, but holding them to a standard to help them to get back on their feet. The men that did not have a space to get into the program, we helped out by providing sleeping bags. I am talking with David below (clutching his new sleepong bag) while Derrin watches. James, bent over in the foreground below patiently waits to receive his sleeping bag.


Homeless Mercy 2

Gladly Receiving a Sleeping Bag on a Cold Night


Jesus said that if we give a cup of cold water in His name, we will honor the King (Matthew 10:42). I was refreshed to see the gospel at work in the lives of men and of us as we served Jesus in this way.

Thanks to Charlie Marsh for taking the pictures, for the four other college students and for Fred Meyer in Ballard who gave us a 10% discount on the sleeping bags. And thanks to you for your generosity to raise over $600 to make this possible.   

by Scott Thomas
Acts 29 Network
Used with permission from Scott Thomas, the director and Chairman of Acts 29 Network, a non-profit church planting organization of missional reformed churches.
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