Tracey and I slept in separate rooms on our honeymoon. In fact neither of us even had a bed to sleep in and we slept on mats on the floor. The females were in one room and the males in the other. We were in Atlanta Georgia at a mission called the Safehouse. There were two van loads of us including several youth, so we thought it best just to keep the boys and girls separated when it was time for bed.
We had been married before and our honeymoon then was quite a bit different. We had a big shindig of a wedding and a rather expensive trip to Clearwater Florida. We rented a car, stayed in a five star hotel on the beach and ate and drank till our hearts content. There was one other major difference. I was addicted to alcohol and drugs the first go round, and I lived a life of complete self indulgence. The second time things had changed.
Since being been born again and delivered from addiction we were married for the second time. The decision to spend our honeymoon in a homeless shelter seemed to be a no brainer. We were both excited and nervous about what we might encounter, but we knew God was in it and with us all the way. We encountered quite the cast of characters in our three day stay and they will never be forgotten.
One day we had several plates of food left after everyone had come through the line, so we decided to walk to the park to give away what we had. We came across one man sitting on a wall, and I noticed he only had one arm. We offered him the plate but he shrugged us off, so we moved on. We came up to another man sitting on the wall and offered him a plate of food too. I noticed he had a bag beside him that apparently had everything he owned in it. He looked in the bag and looked back at us and said “but I don’t have anything to give to you.” It truly touched me that a homeless man, with everything he owns in a bag, wants to pay us something for the food. We said, “Oh no! we want to give it to you we don’t want anything for it.” He took it from us, and we asked him if there was anything we could pray with him about. Once again his response was amazing. He asked us to pray for his parents, children and everything you could think of while never mentioning himself. This man had nothing and yet he was more concerned about paying for the food and everyone else but himself. I was truly humbled.
We left the park and walked down another street. We were about two blocks away from the Planet Hollywood when I saw the next thing that moved me. There were three men sleeping in the foyer of a shoe store. If that isn’t enough I noticed one of them didn’t have any shoes on; I could just see his sock feet. I then noticed he had a pair of shoes, but he was lying on top of them so no one would steal them from him while he slept. You may have seen these types of things before but it was all new to me, and my eyes were definitely opened to the harsh realities of life on the streets.
Later on that night we were back at the Safehouse and we met another man. There is a fenced in area around the Safehouse complete with razor wire. At a certain time of the night they lock the gate until morning. Someone had forgotten to lock the gate so this man had wondered inside the fence. Right away I knew he had been drinking and then I saw the empty half pint bottle. He had sores all over both of his arms and he said to us “I have full blown AIDS.” So not only was this man homeless he seemed to be just waiting to die.
Meanwhile upstairs some of the youth had been acting up and complaining about something. One of the ministers who came with us told them there was a man downstairs and he said, “You guys go downstairs and witness to him.” It wasn’t very long before the youth had found there way back upstairs, and we didn’t hear another peep out of them for the rest of the night. Once they saw and talked to the guy downstairs it became apparent to them they had no reason to complain about anything.
Tracey and I have been married to each other two times. The first time we had a little more money, and we started our married life together on the beach living it up, or so they say. The second time we started our married life together in a homeless shelter in Atlanta Georgia learning what matters the most in life from some unbelievably special people that just so happened to be homeless.
I would encourage anyone to spend a little time helping the homeless maybe even in your own community. You don’t have to take a trip to another state to find them. They’re truly everywhere, and I promise your life will be changed for the better.
Written by Louie