Downtown Nashville has always given me hope in the most random times. Seeing the skyline, taking in the sounds or meeting the people who roam the streets has always been an outlet for me.Have you ever seen a person once, introduced yourself, and then felt like you were seeing him or her everywhere?
That was the feeling that I got after I met a man who called himself Brown. I met him one night before a Nashville Predators hockey game.
It was raining, I was in a hurry and had no time to stop and talk. I did though. I stopped that night. What happened next would change the rest of my night, my week and the entire month of January even.
I felt bad for the guy, ya know? It was raining, he looked hungry and he had nowhere to go. I always liked talking to the homeless people, but on this night the situation was not ideal to do so. However, something about this man pulled me in.
I walked up to Brown, introduced myself and asked him if I could pray for him. At first, I told him that I had no money to give him, but I did offer him my blessing.
Brown loved the idea of prayer. He told me that he “loved the Lord with all that he had,” even though he didn’t have much to offer.
Brown told me his story. I was blown away.
I cannot remember what he said word for word, but I’ll do my best to tell it from his perspective.
I was born and raised in Memphis. I had a kid, my girl got killed and I moved to Nashville in the 80s. I had a house, two jobs and stayed hungry most of the time–I had to feed my kid, man. A few years after working, I lost both jobs because I was arrested for drugs. My son was taken from me when he was seven. Hardest time of my life, man. I had no family around. By this time, my mother had moved to St. Louis. I had no business there, it would only get worse for me. I’ve been here since 1997. Walking the streets. Living where ever for a little bit at a time. I’ll never get used to it.
I was blown away by Brown’s story. I didn’t know how to react to it. I just stood there in the rain with my hand on his shoulder. There were other people talking, there were cars driving by and there was music playing. But all I heard was the rain hitting our rain jackets.
I finally figured out what I wanted to say after a couple of minutes of standing there. I looked at Brown with tears in my eyes and said, “You amaze me. How you have remained faithful to God through all of the stuff you’ve put up with is incredible.”
We embraced. The tears rolling down my face could have well been mistaken for raindrops they were so big. I couldn’t control myself.
We prayed together.
After our prayer he reached into the pocket on his left arm and pulled out a Gideon Bible. It was so worn out. He had definitely been using it. Brown opened it up to book of Psalms and read this verse:
Psalm 106 : 4-5 “Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.”
Have you ever had an epiphany? You know, one of those “aha” moments?
I had one that very second. I was born again, and I had no doubt about it.
Here was Brown; a man who had nothing to his name, but still loved Go with all his heart. Then, there I was. I was blessed as could be with a home, a car, money, and still I could not trust God like Brown did when I had one bad day.
Brown had lived on the streets since 1997. He trusted that God would one day bless him with a home. I, on the other hand, gave up on God so easily when things were not going right. I felt so selfish.
The meeting that night really shook me. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again, but it almost did not matter. Brown had such a huge impact on me that night that his job was done. He helped me. He lifted me up higher than anyone ever had. I was on top of the world. I gave thanks daily, and felt better about the way I envisioned God.
A couple of weeks later I saw Brown again. This time I did not hesitate to stop and talk to him. It really took me aback when he remembered who I was. He didn’t know my name, but he recognized me. Buried within the sea of Predators jerseys I stuck out to him. It really meant a lot. I knew that us meeting one another was not something that happened by chance.
It was The Crossing. I met him for a reason, and did not pass up on the chance. I went with my gut. It paid off.
Thanks to Brown, I count my blessings everyday. If a homeless person approaches me, I pray with them. I encourage you to do the same. Sure, most of them ask for cash or change, but offer them salvation and someone to talk to. Let them know that if you are not there all the time, God is there. It’s a security thing. When they have nowhere else to turn, give them God.
It’s called the Crossing. Cross paths with someone. Today.
Here’s a video I found shortly after I wrote this. It even has a few Lipscomb students in it. Take a look, and enjoy.
If you want to get involved, check out the Nashville Rescue Mission.