The elevator smelt of cheap cigars and of ancient dust, the walls stained grey from all the years of wear and tear, the air was itself intoxicating with no windows to let in a breeze, all three of us caught in our own train of mind with hearts set and ready to listen to the “forgotten” ones. We made our way to the 16th floor with bucket and cleaning products at the ready; the hallways lay barren, no art work, no color, and no life it felt much like a prison. We knocked on the door; the door slowly opened to reveal a petite, fragile, beautiful yet very stressed looking woman. “Hello good morning!” we say, “Oh good morning girls, how are you?” “Oh we are doing great, doing our usual runs we heard you need us to move your T.V.” “Ah, yes oh but I see you girls do not have men on the team, I will not let you girls carry such a heavy thing.” “Oh no worries, I’m sure between the three of us we can manage your television.” “Oh no girls, I do not want you guys to end up like me hurting your back, especially at a young age.” After realizing our persuasion would lead nowhere we began to talk with her. I could sense it she was guarded, afraid she felt vulnerable. She would cling onto her door not wanting to let it go. She went on to tell us that she was very stressed because she had made a cake for her friend, but that she had half a mind of just throwing it away because she felt it was ugly. She was afraid it would taste awful; she was ashamed of her cake. Our sweet team leader went on to assure her that it was the thought that mattered, and that she even made it beyond a thought. Than we all reassured her that her cake was going to be perfectly lovely and would indeed make her friend happy. We talked with her for another 15 minutes. She told us we should stop by for some tea and biscuits soon, she gently closed her door.
I did not know quite how to process it, her fragility expressed so much more than words could ever explain. There was just something about her that made me think of the little girl inside of me that tends to be afraid not wanting to come out because of fear. The fear she communicated was a fear rooted deep in her soul. I do not know how it came to be there but my spirit in itself felt something I cannot express. I do not know what she has gone through, what she has seen, but my soul connected to hers in a way that only human souls can. The soul immediately sensed the sadness in her, the sad twinkle in her eyes that could not be spoken in words or better yet expressed in words.
We pressed on, floor fourteen waiting for us. I did not know what to expect. We knocked, the door was opened and we were greeted by a thick male “Hello, good morning!” African accent. He immediately began to throw clothes off his three chairs to a pile of clothes next to us. I looked around a T.V. perched on a small table, three small camping chairs in the living room, a messy kitchen Martha Stewart would not approve of, a carpet tarnished by dirt and dust. And although the apartment told a story of brokenness the view in front of me breathed life. The inhabitant had a massive window overlooking Sydney. The view was absolutely breathtaking. It was so open, so inviting with beautiful blue skies stretching infinitely and a warm winter breeze blowing in and colorful rooftops as far as the eye could see. “Wow! What a great view!” I told him, “You should see it at night!” He exclaimed his wide brown eyes twinkling at the sight outside his window. The conversation that would follow would bring tears to my eyes. This man was once an accountant in his native land of Africa, graduated college and fell head over heels for a girl. That particular girl would persuade him to come to Australia. As life began to happen she ended up leaving him. He had nowhere to go, and there was a huge language barrier. He fell ill, fell homeless then found shelter in housing provided for him by the Australian government. He began to tell us that humans are haunted by one thing, memories. He said memories could make a person yearn; yearn for that which was of the old, things, people, places, better yet happy places that make the soul alive again. He talked about his loneliness about all that he wanted in life was to be happy. He wanted companionship. His words expressed his deep unwavering desire to be loved, to be listened to, to be cared about, to be thought of. Oh how I wanted to tell him about Jesus! How I wanted to tell him that; that deep void inside of him could only be filled by his maker. At one point tears swelled up in his profound, pained brown eyes as again he said, “I just want happiness.” He went on to say that sometimes he gets depressed for no reason and that’s why he goes out and spends money, because he is lonely and has nothing to do with his life, no goals, nothing to look forward to. He said to us that we did not need to do anything for him that just talking with him was more than enough. I had to look away I felt the tears coming. I understood where he came from. He felt forgotten, abandoned, unloved and suffocating in this world that offered none of it; in a world hustling and bustling in an “I” and “me” mentality. In a world where you give a homeless man five dollars and you have done your “good deed” for the day. He was suffocating in that need for love, in the need for human contact….
I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had plummeted into a world all to itself. Behind every door lay a story. And here I was privileged enough to hear them, to be invited in to hear their song, their unique story. I had honestly grown tired of Sydney, angry at it, me and everything inside me. My insecurities grabbing me, and taking me deeper and deeper into their lies, and here comes God’s voice speaking through HIS forgotten people, reminding me that I have reasons to praise Him. Reasons to be joyful and now new reasons to pray harder for the people He dearly loves. People that although forgotten here on earth hold a deep, unique, unwavering, unrelenting, beautiful, place in His heart. He is the God of OUR cities and He sees everyone, the saved, the unsaved, the rich, the poor, the humble and the self-righteous.
There was this older man in his seventies who said to our street teams, “Your presence is something to look forward to every week. It is not even what you do for me, but about who you are to me.” He broke down and cried, he has no family here and lives alone and has suffered from five heart attacks. I encourage you friend, wherever you go, glorify God with your actions. You do not know who could be watching, who could be in great need to be loved, or to just be shown compassion. When that lady gives you the stink eye at the grocery line do not feel the need to vindicate yourself,( because you DO NOT know her circumstance, her husband could have left her and now she’s left to pick up the pieces of her heart.) Rather take it as an opportunity to grow to make it a choice to exemplify Christ. God just wants you to just love on people. Do whatever they may need in love, because people don’t give a crap about who you are until you show them you care… trust me God will open so many doors and windows of opportunity.
I leave you with some powerful words friends, “God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Psalm 53:2-3 So friends, do not get caught up in the “I” and “me” mentality. Do not turn away from God and his people… put on the Jesus mentality and let Him melt your heart to the people in need, to your “forgotten” brothers and sisters. Because those who seek God find that people are always on His heart.