The first week of street ministry with social distancing was challenging. How do you minister to people on the street and avoid contact with people? Monday evening, I went to Pike Place Market. There were a few shop vendors open for business. Some were closing their booths and looking quite worried. The only people downtown were homeless people. One of the community dinners was passing out to-go boxes, so that’s where I went. I talked with my friend Carl who was barefoot. He gave his sandals to a friend and said, “I have another pair of sandals in my backpack!” His bare feet reminded me that homeless people have big hearts and lots to worry about. I prayed with Micah, who asked for a closer relationship with Jesus. “I need help. I need to be grounded. Being homeless is like being in a constant war for survival.” His mental health issues seem to make him forget that he knows me.
Tuesday, we served one hundred meals on the street without congregating. We had worship music in the parking lot. Larry was mad that we didn’t have cream and sugar for the coffee. He yelled, “This is bullshit!” and threw his coffee in the street. He’s always kind of cranky. I brought fifteen leftovers to a tiny house village. Renee said that she and her husband could split one. People on the street survive by sharing.
On Wednesday, everything was closed. Where can homeless people wash their hands and go to the bathroom? Matthew told me he went to the hospital to wash up. Mental health effects physical and spiritual health. Terry thinks he is immune to the coronavirus because he only has six percent human DNA. “Alien life forms aren’t at risk in a pandemic.” The part time and seasonal work that homeless people do has all ended. People can’t charge their phones because the library is closed.
Thursday, one of the homeless encampments I visit had a big sign up that said Wash Your Hands. We still brought pizza and I was accused of being a cop. I met a transgender woman who asked me if I was praying for us. We talked about the love of Christ shining on the good and the bad. She shared how she survived threats of murder while sleeping in her car. Being born intersexed contributed to her addiction. She told me how she was all alone one day and a person out of nowhere offered to help her get on suboxone to treat her dependence on opioids. “It was like an angel of the Lord came and saved me. That’s how I know God is real!”
Friday, I prayed online and with my coworkers. I walked to two hospitals and prayed. I walked to a chapel at the University and prayed there as well. Please pray for people living on the streets. “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them (Psalms 32:6 NIV).” Michael Cox