We'll back you up

The Tuesday after feet washing we were out at our regular time on Tuesday afternoon. It’s my favorite time because it’s bustling. Men are getting ready to line up at the shelter. It’s also my favorite time because I started coming to the streets in the afternoons at this time. So it’s familiar. It’s the time I fell in love with these friends.

I started talking to a man named Courtney. The conversation led us to the Saturday before, the feet washing event which he had not attended. When I told him what we had done, he said, “I have always wanted to do that.”

Courtney washing feet.

“What?” I inquired. “Wash feet out here.” “Really?” I asked. “Yes, one day I will. Right now, I don’t have the means to do it, but I want to come back after I’m gone from here.” “Courtney, what if we provided the supplies? Would you want to do it?” “YES!” “Next Tuesday it is,” I told him. “You lead it, and we’ll back you up.”

That’s exactly what happened. Our Community Advocate, Stormy, got it all set up. Four chairs, four buckets, some heavy-duty soap, gloves-if-you-want-them, hand towels to wipe clean feet, water coolers filled up at the shelter. Volunteers, staff, our brothers and sisters experiencing life without a house. One volunteer who used to be homeless herself brought her nephew and godsister.

Courtney took the lead. We followed. Every time I told him how much this meant to watch him work and lead and to follow, he pointed up.

“It’s the Holy Spirit,” he said. “The Holy Spirit seen through you, my friend.”

We washed feet, we prayed with and for people. Kenneth wanted to be free from his addiction and to find a good job. He didn’t share this with us but with Courtney. So Courtney brought us in, circled us up—me, Stephen, and him, hands on Kenneth as we prayed for his freedom, healing, and a path to good work.

It’s one thing for us to go there, never having been homeless before. It is an entirely other thing for our brothers and sisters who used to be there to go back with us. And it is a blessed thing for those still there to lead and serve and love their fellow human. Thank you, Courtney, for your vision, your faithfulness to show up and lead, and for your love.

May God richly bless you, my friend.

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