Because all good stories all told in a trilogy (not true, but just sounds good), I thought I'd start a part III. Actually the blog posts were getting long so it's easier to read in segments. Trying to add a little humor... bear with me.
In November this year I went to my alma mater for a Ladies of Lee Reunion. I met up with my college roommates and spent a lot of time with one of them. Rana and her husband Ryan are pastors of a church in GA. We had quite a bit of time to talk on rides to and from the ATL airport. Rana and I hadn't seen each other in 15 years. We'd been on Facebook connecting, but not to the depth that is done face to face. Fifteen years God waited to allow us to reconnect and brought about a piece of restoration for our family as a result of this reunion.
They asked about our family. I shared how everyone was doing and the topic came to Jim. I shared that he had been in jail in Savannah. They live in a suburb of Savannah. I shared that we were having an incredibly hard time locating Jim. I mentioned that we thought he might be homeless or dead. They work with homeless shelters in the area and have a friend who oversees homeless ministry at several areas. They shared that if we gave them a picture of Jim and a bit of his information they would pass it on.
When I returned from the trip, I sent them a picture and information on Jim. Truly not sure what they would find if anything and honestly not expecting anything.
I received a text message from Rana on Sunday afternoon telling me:
Hey! We got some info on Jim. Apparently he is still in the area. People say they have seen him. We will follow up and let you guys know!
I contacted her very quickly and we talked. I imagine it was difficult for her to share and she was incredibly sweet. The info we found out was hard to hear and yet so reassuring too. He was alive. Just that alone was healing to know. No more worry as to the 'ifs' and questions of if he was alive or not. We at least had that answer.
She shared that their friend had posted flyers around the area with Jim's picture and information as well as a phone number to call if anyone had seen him. People had called to report that he frequents the St. Paul church and the food lines at Forsyth Park. They shared that they hadn't seen him living in the tents. This was the most difficult part to take in. He is homeless.
Rana shared that they were in contact with their friend and he posted new flyers around town that we were trying to get in contact with him. They asked for a message from us so that they could pass the word to Jim when he was found. Without knowing his mental/physical/addiction state, it was hard to know what message to pass on. Our family agreed on a simple statement that would allow Jim choices.
So now we wait. We wait to find out if he is found and gets our message. We wait to find out if he continues to struggle. We wait to find out if he is well.
I share our story because there must be other families who have homeless family members that they love and care about. It is near impossible to find out where they live, any information on their well being. I have never looked at homeless men and women through the eyes of their families. After all, all of them must have a relative somewhere. I'm not saying that rescuing them is the answer. I'm simply saying that having a homeless relative, especially a brother, makes me wonder how many families have lost touch with their family and have no way to reach them. And they're wondering where they are with no hope of finding them.
And once you know, what do you do? Their addiction is their addiction. They are adults who can't be rescued, but can be cared for. They can't be simply lifted out of their situations and brought back into a home without restoration, therapy, detox and counseling. I share our story because I don't have the answers. I do know that this has been brought about in our lives for a reason yet unknown. I have hope. Hope that Jim can be restored to us. Hope that whether we ever see him again or not, that he can be given a message of love and care from our family. Hope that others in the homeless church ministries have been serving my brother even when we didn't know where he was. Hope that God hasn't forgotten him. And hope that Jim will run to God and find peace. I have hope that change is still possible while Jim is alive. For if I don't have hope, then what is there to wish for? If things can't change, then why even try? If God is not big enough for this, then my God is not big. Things may not result the way we hope them to, but hope is worth having. Job 6:8 "Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for..."