I really don’t know where to start. I don’t know what point to make. But I know that today’s ministry overwhelms me, and I am sorry that I am not adequate for the task.
I met a man, we will call him Agent Li’l Psych-O (ALPO).
He was a really sweet guy.
Well, not at first. Actually he was quite demanding. He fixated on numerous demands all at once. I tried to be a servant and meet all the needs that I reasonably could. I tried to allow myself to be “stretched” even beyond that.
To make a long story medium, let me say that I took him to two churches to meet his demands before taking him to my old church Vandelia. I did not get any help at the first two. I did not ask at Vandelia either. I have decided asking permission is like asking a church to say “no” – setting ministry up for failure for sure. Better to just barge into that shower he asked for and then search for a towel after he is in the water.
What can I say? It worked. Thank You Jesus! Thank you Vandelia.
I quickly learned that he is actually a clean and neat person. He cleaned himself appropriately and cleaned up after himself very well. He left a very light carbon/garbage footprint. Also HE DOES NOT SMOKE! (This is rare among street people!)
But his demands changed to a need for fresh clothes. Now I am keeping my long story medium by not describing how he wanted to sit in church in a towel while his clothes ran through the wash. I am not describing how I dreaded the idea of being stuck with him for more than an hour after church. (Okay, I just told you those things, but you get the idea. There is a lot going on here that is just too involved for a blog.)
I reached out with a shotgun blast text message for anyone who might help get him some clothes. I got a response! And after an hour and a half waiting for him to finish his shower, we found him fresh clothes too, thank You Jesus. Thank you Restoring Hope!
We picked through the bags of clothes and found three sets of clothes for him. And as I watched the clock approach our third hour (since church), he mentioned lunch. I reached out for a donor. I got none. Okay, we will go to my house. Now this was a concern because my wife who works the night shift was sleeping, and I feared waking her. But it was a risk I decided to take.
But it was during the clothing raid that I began to realize this guy is telling some truly strange stories. In fact the more he socializes with me the taller the tales. His life sounds like a TV show one minute and a movie the next. On the way to my house he actually told me he invented the razor. Later he told me he invented the refrigerator. Hmmm… Wait a minute… did he just say JFK was his uncle???
Yes. He did.
Then he talked about his cousin Eddie Money and the song Two Tickets to Paradise. His aunt, Mrs. Money – Eddie’s mom – is rich. Her name is Money by the way. And his kin owes him money; that is probably why they don’t want to talk to him.
Soon we were eating lunch at my kitchen table. He saw various items in the fridge and began requesting them. I accommodated. His stories just got more unbelievable. Soon I discovered he is kin to the Gambino family. I said, “You mean the crime family?” He got offended. “No! They’re not a crime family! They are honest hard working people! They run a restaurant and get a bad rap from the media!” Spoken like a member of the family alright!
I can’t recall all the names he dropped. JFK, Newt Gingrich, Alice Cooper, Johnny Carson, Eddie Money, Lucky Luciano, and at least a dozen others. Most of them are kin. He even named Bart Simpson as a friend. And many of his stories were lifted right out of headlines of years gone by, TV shows, and movies.
He was a mess of delusions.
He was manic. He spoke nonstop. An hour into lunch and my mind drifted a moment as I began to panic at the thought of turning him back out on the street. He is ALPO to any of the wolves of the night who might find him. As my attention drifted from Jack Nicholson getting the lobotomy that he should have gotten, he suddenly stopped in mid delusion and said, “Thank you [Agent X] for the shower. You are really nice to me.”
It was so innocent. So vulnerable. So needy. Like a child in a grown man’s body.
He is nearing old age and looks weather worn from the streets. He had shaved his full beard in the shower with a couple of Bic Razors. He missed a few patches. He looked like he really feels self-confident, but ten minutes of listening – really listening – proves he is over half way to Alzheimer’s mentality.
I put out a shotgun blast text message again. Please pray for this guy and consider keeping him tonight. He is so sweet. He does not smoke. His language gets offensive from time to time, but he is redirect able.
I got several responses of prayer, but no one offered to take him.
I decided to call the crisis line at the psych ward. They assessed him. He figured out what I was up to and resisted for all he was worth. He did not meet the criteria of emergency detention, but they did offer to take him in if he would consent. He refused. He had a better idea, if I would take him to IHOP, we could find Eddie Money there – he runs the place – and he will give us some rib eye steaks that we can grill in the back yard tonight.
Oh… ALPO… how I wish we could. I also realize that his manic state makes him a sleepless night. I do not have the facility for that tonight either. But then no one from church, not the hospital, and not even Tent City (yeah… we went there too) would take him tonight.
I took him to Asbury Methodist for their evening meal and dropped him off. He has an appointment to get a tent at Tent City at 9 am tomorrow. I hope he can find his way there. I tried to show him the way, but it was about 3 miles away… several turns here and there. He could not shut up about being related to the Rolling Stones, “You know the Rolling Stones right?” I don’t think he was really paying attention to the directions.
If you are reading here, please pray for ALPO tonight. I am. I don’t know what else to do.