Monday, September 13, 2010
All of Us
When he was just two months old, his mother, a prostitute, took off all his clothes, laid him in his crib, and walked through her mobile home, opening each window wide enough for the bitter wind to enter. Then she shut the door behind her, leaving her child to freeze to death.
If his aunt hadn't heard his screaming, the cold would have surely killed him.
This is only the beginning of Dwayne's story.
His grandparents took him in, but verbally and mentally abused him.
While he was still just a child, his uncle would take him on overnight fishing trips where he'd make Dwayne drink beer until he passed out. When Dwayne woke up, he'd find himself naked in the back of the truck, under a blanket.
When he was just thirteen, Dwayne met a girl who changed his life. She loved him and he loved her. They married later and had a baby, a home, a van, and each other. They had fifteen good years, but then she got sick. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died at the age of 35.
The pain was too much to bear, and Dwayne turned to prostitutes for comfort and to drugs. He lost his child, his place, his van.
He was homeless and a drug addict, living in shelters and under bridges, wrapping a towel around his head at night so that the bugs didn't crawl in his ears.
He went to rehab several times, but it never lasted, and one day he decided to end it all. To walk into oncoming traffic and put a stop to the pain.
The light turned green. He waited a moment and then lunged forward, but felt something grip his shoulder so hard that he turned around, expecting, he said, to see a football player from the nearby campus.
It was a tiny old woman. "You don't want to go that way, son," she said, and turned him in a different direction, down Rutherford Street, toward Triune Mercy Center.
That was the beginning of his new life.
"Life is good, isn't it?" he said to the hundreds of us, the homeless and the comfortable, squeezed together in the pews of Triune. "I've got so much now. I'm clean and done with drugs. I've got an apartment with central air and heat, I got a fridge and a stove, I've got food to eat, and I've got God in my life now. And I don't have to sleep with a towel around my head no more. I really hate those bugs."
Life is good, indeed.
We'd come to Triune to listen to Kyle Matthews sing, to raise money for this church to the homeless, and to show support for its ministry. I hadn't expected to worship, to hear Dwayne's amazing story of transformation, or to reconsider my notion of what church is supposed to be.
God, in the busyness of my days, help me take time to make connections with the people around me. Help us be church to each other, respecting the truth that we are all your children, vulnerable babes in an often painful world.
I hope you have a great day, y'all. Before you go, I'd love to hear what church means to you.
And be sure to give a listen to Kyle's song All of Us. The lyrics follow the video. The song tells quite a story.
Photo by cindy47452, creative commons
All of Us
She's got a toddler and a baby, but she's just a child herself
She's desperate but she's too afraid to ask for help
As she wanders through our yard sale, we want to offer food
But we don't want to embarrass her, we don't want to intrude
Thinking, "How can we
Be what she needs?"
She needs friends to be like family
In the best and worst of times
A job, some education, and enough cash to get by
Women who will listen
Men that she can trust
There's still a chance she'll make it
But she's gonna need...
All of us, she'll need all of us
She'll need all of us
He longs to be the savior of people such as these
He wants to wipe out hunger, house the homeless, cure disease
He rides in on his white horse, he's noble and unbowed
Til his money, optimism, and his patience have run out
He thinks, "I should have known
I can't do this on my own...
She stands with all the others in a sea of caps and gowns
Cheers rise from the balcony when her name is called out
She says I'd like to give you all the gift that I have found
A church to be there for you when others let you down
‘Cause the day is gonna come
When you will be the one...
Who needs friends to be like family
In the best and worst of times
To celebrate your victories
Cry with you when you cry
A sea of faithful people
So that when the trouble comes
They surround you like a wave
That gently lifts you up...
And that takes
All of us, that takes all of us
That takes all of us
By Kyle Matthews ~ Copyright © 2008 Catalytic Songs (BMI) All Rights Reserved.