If you recall our friends Frank, Ed, Junior, and Frisco from the Easter Sunday post, well, they slept in the little grove of trees behind the No-Tell Motel again last night. They had thought they would sleep by the exhaust tube at the back of the motel where the dryers from the laundry room blow warm air into the alley. It seemed necessary because after four weeks of warming temperatures, each of them had ditched his ratty, cast-off coat that they had received from the charity drive in the Fall thinking Winter was done with them. But by seven o’clock last night, it was clear Winter had one more punch.
Actually, Junior still had his coat. In fact, he had two. Junior, you see, suffers Schizophrenia and tremendous social anxiety. And part of his coping mechanism is to wear his coat everyday year round. In fact, he hasn’t had a shower in months, not since he checked out of the psych hospital last November. He has not changed his shirt, underwear, or his coat in all that time.
But the coat Junior wears is getting threadbare all the same. It has a sizeable hole in the left elbow and the zipper does not work anymore at all. Never mind his smell, the coat’s functionality is severely limited against the cold (however, it has kept him plenty hot and sweaty these last four weeks).
Anyway, as these bums found a bit of K2 and a couple of quart bottles of Colt 45, they came to the back of the No-Tell flea bag and found the exhaust vent was not running. They did not know that the revitalization committee of the city council had arranged with some developers to make an offer the No-Tell owners couldn’t refuse, and that the place was closed down, boarded up, and slated for demolition sometime this summer.
I guess they didn’t send a memo to the boys in the alley.
And so our friends hunkered down in the tree grove again, just a few yards away.
That is when one of our secret agent operatives found them, gave them two blankets, and sat down to share prayer and communion with them. Agent Q opened the service with a prayer while Frank and Ed smoked and sipped the bottle. But as he read the passage from Luke 14 about throwing a party with the poor, suddenly Frisco had some stories to share. He told about partying with Agent Z in the park on Agent Z’s birthday last October, and how dozens of homeless people found hope and dignity in those hot dogs and the time Z spent sacrificing his own birthday to love on them.
Agent Q asked the others to share too, and soon the boys were preaching sermons, dreaming dreams and seeing visions of God together. (I know some of you think that is just the K2, but please try not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit just now!) Frank said he wrote a song for Jesus while he was in prison, but he never had a church to share it with, and Q suggested he teach it to this group. So they all sang a new song together there in the driving cold wind behind the boarded up No-Tell Motel.
Then Agent Q asked why the boys don’t seek refuge at a church somewhere in the downtown district. And unanimously, they all said none were open to receive them. So Q then suggested that they find shelter in the crook of one of the church buildings at least, but this startled the boys. They all said it with determination; they would not seek shelter from a church like that because they did not want to go to jail.
Agent Q was stunned. This is the reputation of the church in Lubbock among “the least of these brothers”!
Agent Q spent another hour with the boys, and they prayed for the church of Lubbock to open the door to Jesus. They prayed asking God to forgive them since they know not what they do. And before Agent Q headed home, he ran up to Walmart nearby and found four pocket warmers left in the out-of-season bin, purchased them, and took them back to the very grateful bums camped behind the No-Tell.
This morning, Agent Q awoke to find the local temperatures had dropped to 27 degrees! And he is very worried whether Frank, Ed, Junior, or Frisco might have succumbed to hypothermia. But he is confident that even if any or all of them did, that they spent their last night bearing the image of God in Lubbock, Texas.
Think about it.