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Let This Homeless Survivor Teach You 6 Powerful Lessons

Today’s post is more personal than what I normally write here … I’m attempting to understand something that happened to me last weekend when I had the honor of hosting David as he visited one of our campuses.

David is a survivor of homelessness after having lived on the streets of New Jersey for over 12 years.

He was a part of a special service we hosted where we highlighted the work of the New York City Relief Bus … a fantastic organization that our church partners with. I’m still trying to process everything I learned from my time with him.

Here are a few lessons that I’m chewing on …

1. Slow down and listen.

It’s amazing what you hear when you slow down and listen to a person just tell their story. On our first evening together, David literally talked for hours about his life, starting with when he was in a school play in the fifth grade through his experience of being shot and living on the streets for 12 years, to getting sober and getting off the streets. 

Why don’t I slow down to listen more?

2. Miracles still happen.

Listening to David tell his story was awe inspiring. God still shows up in massive ways and chooses to step in and directly intervene in the human story. It was my privilege to listen to his story and how God moved in some dramatic ways. 

What does it say about my faith that stories of God stepping in and saving the day are the exception and not the rule?

3. Simple stuff matters.

Over the 12 years that David was the on the street, there were times when people acted out in simple ways to help him … giving him a pair of clean socks, providing a few extra bowls of soup, people telling the cops to not bother him. Those simple acts of kindness spoke loudly to him … he would slow down and explain how people helped him in detail. 

How can I perform acts of simple kindness next time I see homeless people rather than just walking by?

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Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at UnSeminary.com and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications.