Jesus gave me a gift today.
A beautiful gift.
I met Kareem.
It's certainly been a full week and a bit. Certainly blew me out of any social media presence as I've been pretty focused on serving with our amazing team of Vineyardites who were the blood and guts in pulling off our Canadian #VTribe National Celebration here in Montreal. Amazing time. My people. My home. Much to unpack about that later, and certainly much to learn for future gatherings, but honestly I don't think it could've gone any better.
There he was.
This morning as I'm dragging my tired butt and wobbly suitcase down Rue Lambert Closse I saw him. Tucked up in a nook at the top of the entrance stairs to the facility where we had worshiped and prayed with peeps from coast to coast for several days. Where we had learned and relearned. Where we had laughed and cried. Where we had been encouraged and challenged in ways that can only bear fruit after the ripples of repentance have had their chance to effect real change.
There he was. Right on the threshold of where we entered and left. Come and gone. Over and over again. Where we had to walk, whether coming or going. Had he always been there and we just hadn't seen him?
Classic. Sleeping with a fringed and fraying blanket over his head and his bare, asphalt and dirt stained feet resting. Yup, and the smell too. There's always that beatitudinal, disarming, upside down fragrance. Dark curly hair.
"Hey. Good morning. Do you speak English?"
Gruff. Startled. "What do you want?"
"Nothing," I said. I had made my way back up to our Air B&B to glean from our stay some food and supplies that we still had in the apartment. I rustled the bag I was holding. "Been staying here close by, and am heading back to BC. Thought we could share with you some things." He sat straight up. As he did, a garbage bag opened up beside him to reveal literal food stuff garbage, yes garbage, that he obviously was going to use for a later meal.
"Thanks." Now a smile.
"I wasn't sure what you were up to. Sorry I was so rude to you, but I just didn't know. Thank you." We chatted a bit. I'm somewhat taken aback by this Middle Eastern man, somewhere in his late 20's and so clear. Sharp. Articulate. "Can I pray for you?" Yup. There it was. The wall of defence slowly rising again. "Oh. I don't mean a pray where you need to 'do anything', or even respond in anyway. You could even lay back down to sleep and I just leave a blessing 'over you.' It will be in the name of Jesus. Just receive from Him." Fist pump. Good to go.
We prayed that he would find a home. Not just for his body, but for his soul. His spirit. Faith and hope in Jesus." Eyes glistening. The Spirit at work. The kingdom come.
The smile was back.
Another fist pump.
Jesus gave us a gift today. I am so grateful.