Our friend Lula was killed on the streets the Sunday before Christmas. I learned about it on our drive to Memphis to see Austin's family. Lula was also murdered. It is such a harsh word, but there is no other way to say it. She was killed across the street from where Ava had been killed a mere four months before.
Then, today, I learned my friend Tyrone died. I met Tyrone a year or so ago. The first time I met him, I did something that is unusual for me: I asked if I could pray for him. It is unusual because I normally get to know someone before we pray together.
Something stirred my heart. Tyrone used a cane and had a hard time just walking a few steps, so short of breath was he. I put my arm on his shoulder and I asked God to help him breathe.
It was an act of faith for me, because it is sometimes uncomfortable to put myself out there like that and not know how the person will respond. Also, I truly believe God hears all of our prayers, but he does not always answer them as we ask. Yet I felt compelled to ask.
As I kept seeing Tyrone, a friendship formed. I learned he had congestive heart failure. He was often sitting and yet still out of breath when we talked. He had a hard time with life on the streets and was eager to move away.
He was one of my friends on the streets "reverse-evangelizing" me, for he so often spoke to me of Jesus and how he experienced Jesus's deep love for him. He was safe and content in the Lord despite the difficulty of his physical condition -- both internally and externally. Really, God and his love was Tyrone's deepest hope.
I loved Tyrone as a friend and a brother.
Two weeks ago he was taken to the hospital. Today, I learned he passed away. We weren't able to go see him in the hospital because we weren't family. We actually don't even know when he died. The only reason we now know he did is because they got in touch with his family, and his family let some of the men in the shelter know.
It's hardest not having gotten to say goodbye. I feel so sad that I didn't know the last time I saw him was going to be the last time. I know he lived in a fragile physical state, but I really didn't know he would be gone.
I will miss Tyrone, his smile, and our good conversations. I will miss hearing him talk to me about the good Lord and learning from him. I picture him safe in his Father's loving arms.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called sons and daughters of God,
and so we are.
1 John 3:1