2010-12-15: Helping The Homeless


Rashmi_icon.jpg Hosea_icon.jpg

Summary: Rashmi and Hosea help the homeless

Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2010. 7:42pm

Log Title: Helping the Homeless

Rating: G. (Note: minor religious content)

NYC - Hell's Kitchen

The rough neighborhood in Midtown West New York known as Hell's Kitchen almost has a darker tone to it. Once you step into this neighborhood the city takes on a different feel, the buildings are shorter but everything feels darker. There is real grit to this part of town where many of the New York City criminals see to make their home.

It's COLD.
There should be a law against this type of weather with no snow. The tall African can be seen by people from all up and down the street. When you stand closer to seven feet than to six, and have hair that curls out in all directions, it's hard to miss you. Hosea wasn't built for this sort of weather. It never gets colder than about 80 in the rain forest where he comes from. That's when people put on coats. When it's 14 degrees, it's a whole new ball game.
It hasn't stopped him, though. Here he is on the street. A church van is next to him, and a few fellow believers are handing out coats to the homeless, along with blankets, socks, gloves, and free coffee. Hosea loves coffee, but this instant stuff? Yech. All the same, it's hot, and he is appreciative of it. His own coat doesn't look any better than most of the people he gives coats out to. A hand-me-down from some thrift store at the best. It's zipped up to the neck, and he passes out a pair of socks to one of the homeless who have recently come up. "It is always good to have dry socks," he instructs the older gentleman. "Without them, you will get nasty blisters, yes?" The man mumbles something unintelligible, to which Hosea listens carefully. "I see," he says, though he really doesn't. "You should come to church wit us on this Sunday. It would be a beautiful thing to celebrate Jesus with you." The older man smiles, missing half of his teeth. Hosea proceeds to give the man instructions on how to fi
Hosea proceeds to give the man instructions on how to find the church, all printed on a business card. "It is vedy small, I know, but it is all I have, I hope you will find us. But if not, maybe I will find you heah again, yes?"

Down the other end of the street, breath fogging the air ahead of her, trots a redheaded Hindi girl, bundled up well against the bitter New York chill, though perhaps not quite as much as someone from warmer climes might deem necessary. Wearing a skirt, even a heavy woolen one and leggings beneath, could seem an act of madness to the non-native. Yet, the only suggestion of discomfort is the rosiness beneath dusky-skinned cheeks and nose, and the smile that grows on her face at the sight of the church van is brilliant. Hefting the bookbag strap at her shoulder, she lifts a mittened hand, waving to the congregation as though greeting old friends.

Hosea waves, having some faint look of recognition on his face. "Hello dere!" he calls out. "It is a beautiful night, yes? Though cold enough to freeze anything. I never knew dat it could be so cold in a place!" He has seen Rashmi around the school, certainly, but he doesn't really know her. Still, the face strikes him familiar. The man wanders off, and stops briefly next to Rashmi. "Yer perdy," he tells her plainly. "I think you might be my daughter." He smiles again through his scraggly and unkempt beard, pointing an old finger at her.

Rashmi chuckles at Hosea's declaration, shaking her head and moving closer, but pauses as the old man approaches, blinking at the statement. Smiling gently, she shakes her head. "I'm sorry, sir," she says, voice low and untroubled "but I just left my parents' house. D'you remember your daughter's name, though?"

The man opens his mouth to answer, and then looks back at Hosea. "He gave me some socks," he tells her, completely forgetting whatever it was that she said a moment ago. "They will be good not to give me blisters." He proceeds to wander off, clutching his new pair of socks.
Hosea watches one eyebrow raised slightly. "It is vedy hard," he says. "Some of dem do not understand well what is happening around dem. But at least we can give dem something to celebrate dis Christmas. America is a vedy rich country. It is strange to see dat dere are still poor people heah."

"Merry Christmas," Rashmi murmurs after the old man, a look of sorrow on her face, then turns to face Hosea, nodding. "It is strange, isn't it…? But it's not something that can be helped easily, I'm sorry to say… It's what happens when you have a very rich country, and some people in it who want to be as rich as they can possibly be, you know?" Sighing, she lifts her shoulder in a shrug. "It's good to see you and your friends out here, um…." Trailing off, her cheeks grow just a touch redder. "…I'm sorry, I don't remember your name? I *know* I've seen you at school…"

"Hah!" Hosea says in a near shout. "Dat is where I have seen you. I am Hosea Ikbuku." with a huge smile, he holds out his hand. "Yes, we have gone to school togetha. I have also forgotten your name I think. I am vedy sorry." Another man comes up and takes a coat, trying to sneak off without talking to the workers. "Ha, wait sir," he stops the newcomer. "If you come to dis address, we will also feed you. Mrs. Wrenkle makes a wonderful meatloaf, you should have it!" The man doesn't seem interested in talking, but takes the card and then tucks away down the street. "Bah, he may not come," the Nigerian observes. "He will be hungry. But you cannot make people accept what is best for dem," he tells Rashmi with a raised finger. The rest of his hand, however, remains tucked inside of his coat. He's giving out gloves, but it seems that he doesn't have any of his own.

"You can only hope that if you make it clear enough, they'll understand it on their own," Rashmi finishes, nodding slowly. "The problem is, a lot of people confuse the medium with the message, you know? Like, that guy you just stopped? I'm going to guess he tried to be sneaky, because he didn't want to be preached at, maybe he thought he'd get lectured or given a motivational speech when all he wanted was to be a little warmer. A lot of the churches do that… enough for people to think *all* help comes with the price of guilt, or forced to listen to things that don't apply to them."

"Do they?" Hosea asks. He hasn't been in contact with such churches. Then again, churches that don't do much outreach probably wouldn't have much contact with the ones that do, either. "Dey will not understand because da message is clear," he informs the girl. "Dere minds are closed. Only if God reveals it to deir hearts, den dey will understand. It is not my place to open da heart, I am to just give dem truth dat God offers dem Jesus to save dem. Maybe not save dem from poverty in dis life, but poverty in da life to come. Dis is more important."

Rashmi tilts her head, brow furrowing. "But how does that help? I mean, would you give someone a handful of wheat and tell them 'This bread is *delicious,* you're welcome' if they don't have any idea how to turn wheat into bread?"

Hosea places his finger aside his nose, giving a patient look that Rashmi's given many people before herself. "Ah, but we do. We tell dem all dey must know. Just as a man plants a seed in good soil and cares for it. He does not make it grow. God sends da rain and da sun to make it grow. I can tell dem what they must know, but I cannot make dem live by it, yes? Dey could have all knowledge, but live like King Solomon, who did not follow his own wisdom. You can know many things and remain a great fool."
A slow smile grows on Rashmi's face, a lock of hair tucked behind her ear. "But wouldn't it be easier to live by, if they understood *how* it applies to them? Remember… Solomon *chose* his way, he ignored the chance to *learn* how to make bread from wheat; he just thought having a cookbook was good enough. But if you teah a man to mill the wheat, mix the dough, and bake the bread, then he *learns,* down to his bones, what a beautiful gift a handful of wheat can be."

Hosea knits his brow, but is happy to keep engaging. "Yes, it is easier," he answers. "Dis is what I say. I will teach dem how to apply it, but I cannot apply it for dem, yes? Dis is what God does. He gives dem da will to apply it." He indicates to the man who had just left recently. "Look, I was him, but maybe much worse," he tells Rashmi. "I grew up being taught how to live for God. My father taught me how to apply da Truth. But I did not listen. I was vedy foolish, because all men are wicked. But praise to God, he took away my stone heart, and gave me a new heart of flesh. Now I am able to apply with my heart what I learned before with my head." He taps his heart and head respectively. "I will teach dem to make da bread, but I will never be able to force dem to make da bread."

"Ah," Rashmi says with a touch of sadness, "I can't agree fully with you there, Hosea… No man is more wicked than any other. Dr. Gandhi and Stalin, Captain America, Henry VIII, all the best and all the worst people the world has ever made? They're all the same people. God doesn't place the mark on a man's heart from birth, and force him to prove Him wrong… At least, that's not what I think, because it doesn't seem to match well with free will, you know? Personally? I think He placed in every living soul, the capacity for Grace and Sin, and leaves it to *us* which way we go. He wants us to be as good as we can, but He won't ever make that decision for us."

Hosea folds a pair of thermal underwear on the table, and regards Rashmi curiously. "Hm. Man already placed da mark of sin, not God, it is God who makes people no longer wicked. People are guilty by deir own decisions. No man has a will dat is free because of deir sin. Only God can free da will. You live in America, people heah do not like to look at sin. Dey see da starving world, but dey go for coffee while another goes without food. Dey live in big houses while others live in boxes. Dere is sin in my country of Nigeria too, and in all countries."
He gives a sly smile. "Sometimes a country accept some sins more den others, and dey are numb to even think it is wrong. Dey think dat some sin is small! Hah. It is a silly thought dey have. Dere are no small evils. Dat is why it is so good dat God comes to us. I am da worst of all people, but I have been saved from who I was. I do not hate people for doing what is wrong, dey cannot help it. Dey are still trapped."

Rashmi shakes her head, her disagreement evident, her pleasure in the conversation more so as she pitches in to help unwrapping packs of socks and briefs to fold. "That's the thing, though… They're *not* trapped. Not really. A wicked man could choose to turn to grace as easily as any other. The only thing that keeps them from that light, that hope, from God in whatever form He takes… just what's in their mind. A prison with glass bars, but you'd never know how fragile it is if you never tried to break free."

Hosea laughs, folding another pair of thermals. "You almost understand!" he says. "But it is not fragile. Da devil likes to make us think it is fragile, yes. He say, 'Look, you stop dis bad thing, you can be a good person by your strength!' But he is a liar. Da bars are not broken, you just are blind and cannot see them." He stops and touches the end of his nose as he speaks again. "What is worse for us is dat even if we could, it is too late. We have already been condemned by our own deeds."

Rashmi chuckles. "I don't believe that there *is* a Devil, Hosea, not like that… Free will alone allows mankind to be more cruel to one another than any outside force ever could. It's just that struggle, to be as good as He could wish, or as evil as we can be. I mean… you just told me, once, you were wicked, right? But you chose, yourself, to turn back toward grace and live your life in God. How could it *possibly* be too late, and how, *how,* could a loving God not see the pure *bravery* it took to do that?"

Hosea smiles. "Da devil does not need your belief to be real, though you are right, we can be vedy cruel without da devil's help. I did not choose what is right. I had da place to choose, and I chose to become a terrible man, who did not care for anyone but himself, and I killed many people." Yes, he just said that. He picks a box up off of the ground, and places it on the table between them, happy for the help. Some of the other workers adjust seamlessly around as Hosea talks with Rashmi, talking to the homeless individuals that come up to get supplies.
"God chose me, I did not choose him. He reach out and say to me, 'Son of Ikbuku, da devil desires you, but I shall have you for myself!' It is too late for us not to sin, you see. We have already done it. God is loving, but He is also just. He is not a teddy bear dat just makes us feel good. He hates sin. But because he is loving, he has taken da punishment for da sin himself as Y'shua! How good is that for us?"

Rashmi smiles, shaking her head and setting out another pile of socks to match and roll. "It was a beautiful, terrible thing, when Jesus died for our sins, Hosea… But it wasn't the only way it could have happened. Here was a man, a *wonderful* man, wise and just and loving of everyone, who did his very best to try to get everyone around him to see the light we all had within our hearts. And some took heed, and spread his message long after he was gone, but many, many did not. They couldn't see past the prison of their hearts, and so he came to believe that the only way to free all those prisoners, was to bear the burden of their darkness for his own." The finished pile set aside, Rashmi starts to organize coats and gloves. "But you know? It really wasn't the only way. One day, Hosea, and I truly believe this… One day, there won't be a human being who desires to harm another. One day, we'll have real peace, real prosperity… *real* grace as a people and as a world. And on that day, I think, we'l

Rashmi says, "And on that day, I think, we'll understand what He envisioned when He breathed life into this world.""

"If it wasn't da only way, den God is a vedy horrible Creator, to send his Son for something dat could be done another way. Dat would be a sick thing to do. God designed dis from da beginning. He said it in da garden to da first man and woman. I do not believe God is so terrible. One day all people will know da truth, and dere will be peace and love. But it will not happen before dis world is gone. Even now, God uses things dat are terrible to reveal himself. Dese things which are so bad? He has purpose for da evil to turn it to good."
The Nigerian turns to face Rashmi, stopping his folding for a moment. "God may show you terrible evil one day so that it shall be shown to you da nature of man without God, just as he did with me. I hope he will use a gentle touch, I can see dat you desire what is good. But He will show you in da way dat He chooses." Of course, the African would not expect it to be so violent as his own experience.

Rashmi nods slowly. "You may be right, Hosea… Of course I hope you're not, but it may be that you're right. I don't claim to know Him better than any other, and what I believe may be as far from the truth as anyone else. But, I don't think anyone can truly know Him, any more than we can truly know everything about our world. And, you know? I *like* that. I *like* disagreeing with you, I *like* seeing Him through the eyes of another. I like that He gave us the limits that make it impossible to completely understand His will and His way."

"Hah, you are a funny girl," Hosea says with a smile. "I do like you I think. It is too bad we did not know each otha while you were still at da school, yes? If you wish to see God through another's eyes, I shall give you something. It is a good thing." He rushes back to the van, and quickly returns with a paperback Bible, ESV. "I have learned to make what I believe agree with da Bible. It sometimes means I must believe things dat most people do not like vedy much, but I find it more important to agree with God then man, yes?" He extends the simple Bible to her. No doubt one that would cost only a few cents to make, in order to make buying in great quantities less expensive.

Rashmi smiles broadly, taking the Bible with a bob of the head. "Thank you, Hosea… And you're right, I do wish we'd met before I graduated. But I guess in return, I'll just have to hunt down a copy of my church's Bible for you. It's only fair, right?"

"Ah," Hosea says with a smile. "Of course. I would be happy to see it." Back at the van, some of the other workers have started to pack away things rather than bring them out. Most of the homeless have stopped coming, turning in for the night at wherever they might find shelter. "A friend of mine told me a line from a book. It was vedy good. He say, 'Buy truth, and do not sell it.' That is good, yes? It is important to find whatever may be real and true, and hold on to it for all dat we can." He makes fists, holding them out as if he's holding something invisible with a tight grip. "Maybe we can see truth togetha, yes?"

Rashmi's smile becomes a grin, bright and sunny. "A very good phrase to live by, Hosea… And I truly hope we do. After all, even a single person needs two eyes to see the world right; why should one view contain all the truth?"

"Because if it did not, we would all be cross-eyed," Hosea laughs, not realizing that Rashmi believes that there is more than one truth. Synchronism is not a view he has been able to grasp easily.
Rashmi pauses, eyebrow quirking upward at this statement, the corner of her mouth twisting into an amused smirk. "Perhaps," she says after a moment, reaching out her hand to shake. "I'm sorry I forgot to introduce myself before now, Hosea. I'm Rashmi… Rashmi Franklin. And I really should get going… there's still studying I have to do before I don't have to worry about bombing my midterms. But I hope I'll see you around, maybe on Sundays when I go back to the school?"

Hosea nods, packing some of the materials back into the van. "It was good to meet you properly, Mis Franklin," he answers. "And may God richly bless you in all dat you do. I do hope we will have many more opportunities to talk with one anotha."

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