This morning we met William at the train station. William is homeless and deaf and unable to speak, likely because he’s been deaf since an early age. If I had to guess I would say that William is about 40 or so. He has intelligent clear brown eyes. William can make sounds, and you can gather emotions in the sounds, when you combine that with facial expressions and body language. The sounds that come from William are loud, and more like moans then words. We’ve interacted with William a few times in the past few months but only to provide food. When William sees us, he places his fingers to his lips, asking for food, smiles and motions to say hello. He’s joined us for study a few times, but since he is unable to read lips well, he isn’t able to share in the conversation and normally leaves after he’s done eating.
If I didn’t see this stuff daily I would say it is impossible to conceive of a deaf mute man that is also homeless, considering all of the social programs, social workers, all of the organizations in the area to help, the millions of dollars funneled into Mercer County to help the homeless each year… how can there be a deaf mute man that is homeless? How can this be?
It’s relevancy. It’s heartbreaking. That might seem harsh, but the condition of lives like William, lives on the streets do not impact others. They do not see the loneliness, the heartbreak, the pain, the desire for love, the fear of being hurt, the betrayal. It’s easy to discount them.
They ARE irrelevant.
These people are forgotten by the general population, because we don’t see them, or we don’t care too. Homeless people can be scary, they can seem irrational, violent or sick… I understand that. There are mentally ill on the street and criminals on the street, but the majority are normal hurting, lonely people without homes.
And for me, the sad horrible truth is, if we as a community turned and looked and saw the pain living on our local city streets and focused our hearts, homelessness in our area would come to a quick end. But it’s all about relevancy.
They are kept in the corners of the community, the edges that people don’t see. The city planners and government agencies want them boxed up and placed into spaces that don’t devalue the rest of the community, so much so, we’ve seen agency fighting agency because of this truth. Try and create a homeless center in a community and you’ll see them become relevant really fast, but not as humans, as sets of problems, dirty and unwanted.
Don’t bring that into my community, keep it on the edge in the dark please…
This is what we battle daily, not only all of the hurts in their hearts, but a community and government that wants them dealt with quietly and not in our backyard if you please.
Today, I had the ability to sit with William and chat with him using my phone to communicate with him, here is our actual conversation… (I’ve formatted it slightly so it’s easier to read)
Me> Hey, William, you remember me? I’m pastor Erik.
William > yes I do
Me> Are you okay?
Me> What’s wrong William?
William> I’m sad angry
William> Angry at him (motions to the sky and does a sign that means something like “no good” or “death”)
Me> Are you angry with God?
Me> Because you are homeless?
William> yes and other things
Me> So you believe in God but are mad at him?
William> yes mad
Me> I’m so sorry William. Can we sit and talk about it?
William> Not now, pray for me.
Me> I will, let’s do that now William.
I placed my hand on Williams shoulder and William bowed his head and I prayed for him. William couldn’t hear me pray, but he could see my lips moving and I saw him watching my lips as I prayed, and in my heart as I prayed, I prayed for the strength not to cry in front of him.
It’s not just because I was sad and heartbroken for William, but because I didn’t know at that moment how to show William how relevant he is to me, how relevant he is to Jesus.
I work, but I’m on the last of my savings, I’ve spent much of my savings working to help these men understand how relevant they are, to provide the time to love them, to spend day after day with them on the streets and God has shown me many things, about them, about this homeless world and about myself.
I’m so thankful…for guys like William, for this ministry, Restoring Hearts Ministries of Trenton, my church Calvary Chapel of Mercer County and for a God that shows us all how relevant He is in our lives and how relevant we are to Him. God’s love is relevant in our lives, so much so He died to show us.
I suppose the world may never truly care for the people living on the edge of our community. William may go on being ignored and left to try and manage in his quiet, cold, lonely world, but as God as my witness he will never be alone. I will find a way to teach William that he is relevant in the eyes of the Lord and Restoring Hearts Ministries will walk alongside him to see him get the help he needs.
and this ministry will continue to struggle to care for the numbers of homeless men and women on the street, and it is true, we are not alone in this battle, we have some brothers and sisters that work to this goal and we have a relevant powerful loving Savior and thru Him, we will find a way to show these hurting homeless hearts that they are loved.
If you’d like to help us help the homeless in our area, join us in ministry by donating now – http://
I can’t wait to see William again, to hug him, and teach him all about the God that loves him.
God protect William, thank you Lord for who you are, for this ministry and your church, for this experience and reminder. Empower us Lord, we love you Jesus. Amen.