A story about seeing the humanity in all of God’s creation and reuniting long lost loved ones.
BY JAMIE HUMPHREY
I am guilty of seeing a homeless guy on a bench as a nuisance to society. Until it became a family member.
Eli’s brother, Isaac, has been homeless in DC for 3 years and we had lost contact with him. We didn’t know if he was even alive. It’s been horrible. With my mother-in-law, Mary’s, recent heart emergency we all hoped we could find Isaac. Eli tried. We prayed.
Here’s the story of the guy who saw Isaac and was moved to do something. He saw Isaac as a son, brother, a child of God. Please keep praying for Isaac. We are so happy he’s alive.
The words of Dave Skinner:
I’ve been blessed in many ways throughout my life, too many to count, but some of those blessings are extra special. Today I’ve spent a lot of time in thought about the highlights in my life, and this week ranks right near the top.
My family spent the week in Washington DC with about 35 other members of Greenwood Baptist Church. We were there on a mission to meet and love the homeless and show them there are people that care about them. I was there to learn to love those different than myself, to learn how to show others the grace that God has given me; to learn to be more like Christ. I had been praying for sometime that God would use me to impact someone’s life in a major way. Not just a free lunch or a bottle of water but in a BIG way. Unbeknownst to me, there was a family in South Carolina and southern California praying that someone would meet their son, minister to him, and help them reconnect after three years of separation, worry, and fear.
On Tuesday my family and I met a young man named Isaac. He was very guarded, and shy, but polite, almost to a fault. We spent maybe 15 minutes learning a little about him, where he was from, how long he had been there, asking if he needed anything, which he insisted he did not. We learned he was from my home state of South Carolina which immediately led me to feel some sort of connection. We parted ways with a handshake, but I couldn’t shake the thought of him, all evening and night I thought about him and the story he had told us, about how young he is and how much of a future he could have.
The next morning we headed back to the park where he had been sleeping on a park bench. Our eyes met shortly after I entered the park and I could see that he was as excited to see us as I was him. We invited him to lunch, played cards, talked, and got to know each other more. I eventually asked him if he wanted to get back home and if he would like to call his family. Yes, he wanted to go home but he didn’t want to call, his parents and siblings would all be working he said. I didn’t force the issue but promised I’d see him the next day.
Later that evening I was sharing his story with Pastor Shane Blankenship. I mentioned he was from the coast of South Carolina and Shane told me they were evacuating those areas because of the hurricane. I immediately realized that was my excuse to get him to reach out to his family.
Thursday would be our last day in DC. It was now or never. We were going to be in the park handing out pizza and I was anxious to see Isaac. Sure enough he was right where I had found him the previous two days. We shared pizza and talked and I let him know about the hurricane. I explained about the evacuation and that in all likelihood his parents wouldn’t be working and it would be a perfect time to reach out. He agreed and I dialed the numbers for him. My heart sank as both calls went to voicemail. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. We kept talking and I told him if they called back I would come looking for him. He didn’t want me going through any trouble but I would’ve walked through fire to see him talk to his mother and father. We prepared to part ways for what I feared may be the last time. We all hugged him, prayed for him and went our separate ways.
Shortly later I got a text from his mother wanting to know who I was. A quick explanation led to a return phone call. The first words out of his mother’s mouth were her prayers had been answered. I thought to myself “so had mine!” We talked for about an hour, she shared more of their story with me and more details about the events that led to Isaac being homeless and so far from home. She told me how she had nearly died from a torn aorta back in the spring and spent 5 days in a coma and Isaac had no idea. Everything she told me lined up with what he had told me thus far. I couldn’t wait to get back to the park and let them talk for the first time in a year. They were very willing to welcome him home with open arms under the understanding he seeks help with the issues that landed him on the streets. I enlisted Curtis Adams to head back to the park with me as quickly as possible, Isaac lit up like a light bulb when he saw me. I gave him the good news and also shared with him the news about his mother’s near brush with death. I then dialed and handed him the phone. I couldn’t hear all of what was being said but when he handed the phone back his mom told me to see what I could do to get him to Charlotte and they would be there waiting. They were actually headed that way to evacuate from the hurricane. There was a train leaving in 50 minutes so we were off to the races.
Here is where things got crazy. At the train station we just had about 3 minutes to get him a ticket and boarded. Unfortunately that’s when we learn he doesn’t have a photo ID. No boarding public transportation without that. The next bad news is he can’t get one without a birth certificate! A million thoughts are racing through my head, how can I get him home to his family? I will not fail at this!! I guess I’ll drive him! After much deliberation, changing of plans, shuffling of driving and riding arrangements, everyone in our group worked together to allow myself and two other men to leave at 9pm last night with Isaac, drive him to Durham, NC and meet his parents at a roadside McDonald’s off I85.
What a reunion it was. His parents are awesome people that love him with all their heart. There were lots of tears and praise to God that followed. At 1:30am we were huddled in a powerful prayer circle thanking God for putting us all in the right place at the right time, thanking him for protecting Isaac until the time was right for him to seek help and reunite with his family. We asked God for guidance, strength and wisdom for the battle ahead, and much more.
After parting ways, the three of us reflected on what had just transpired and we were just in awe of how many pieces to the puzzle God had laid out for this situation to happen the way it just had. A hurricane literally put us on a collision course with destiny. A sinning redneck that happened to be born in South Carolina, who only recently joined a small, growing church which happened to be going on the first mission trip of this kind in their history, ending up talking with this one guy out of the 1,000’s of homeless in DC, connecting the dots, encouraging that phone call, his mother’s prayers, her brush with death and miracle recovery (less than 1% of people survive a torn aorta), her recent dreams of him returning home, his dire conditions finally having him ready for a change at the right time, the willingness of our entire group to help make this happen, on and on and on. These aren’t coincidences, they are the work of the hand of God! Thanks be to him! If you are a person that believes in the power of prayer please keep Isaac and his family in your prayers. They will need them in the months and years to come. I’m so thankful for the enlightenment that this experience has given me. I am thankful for the new friends I’ve made within my church, as well as Isaac and his family. I’m already looking forward to the next adventure God lays in front of me.
“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:24 NIV
ABOU THE AUTHOR
Jamie Humphrey is a 35-year-old native San Diegan. She has been united in wedded bliss to her soul mate, Eli, for almost 9 years. Together they have a beautiful 7-year-old daughter, Serenity and a handsome 5-year-old son, Justice. Jamie spends her days delighting in her children and her evenings joyfully making dinner, doing laundry and cleaning the house. What a wonderful life it is!
TRANSLATION: Jamie is a stay at home mom that is always trying to find her purpose and worth in the mundane and repetitive tasks of homemaking. She never dreamed of not having a job outside the home but God’s grace is sufficient. His plan for her life is sanctifying and He always uses her to glorify His kingdom whether it is at the kid’s soccer practice or their school. God is good.