An Unlikely Pair: Rachel & CharlieJuly 1, 2019
A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN TWO BELIEVERS WHO MET AT THE INTERSECTION OF HOPE AND HOMELESSNESS
Charlie is a hard worker with a big love for God, limited resources, and no Internet. Rachel is a hard worker with that same God-love, a bicycle, and, importantly, Internet access. Charlie is 50, full of life experience and wisdom. He likes to talk. Rachel is 24, full of ideas and enthusiasm. She likes to read.
This is how they met: Rachel frequents the grocery store on Wednesday for $5 sushi night and a quiet spot to read. It’s a good stopping place between her office, where she works as a chemist, and an inner-city church, where she meets up with fellow Urban Bicycle Food Ministry volunteers to deliver burritos to hungry people.
Charlie works for a cleaning company, keeping NBA box suites ship-shape. The grocery is a convenient rest spot in off hours.
“This man kept showing up,” Rachel said. “He had his book bag with him and he had a rain jacket on. I thought he was probably homeless. People look for places they won’t get kicked out of before settling down for the night.”
Charlie, the talker, struck up a conversation. “I’ve seen you studying up in here,” he said. The two talked science, God, and the Bible. This led to more conversations each week, a growing friendship, and a dilemma for Rachel: find another spot to read or abandon her coveted quiet time. She chose the latter and finally got brave enough to ask Charlie a big question. “You have a job. Why are you on the street?”
Rachel thought Charlie’s lack of access to technology might be the key to his homelessness. She verified this hypothesis with phone calls. “I started calling places and they were booked two years out. I’d be on the phone for an hour only to hear, ‘go online and find something.’”
Rachel and a co-worker talked resources with Charlie, spent lunch hours searching online, and found three apartments that fit his budget. “My goal was to get him someplace before winter really set in,” she said.
Charlie rejected the first two housing options because of filth and crime, respectively. The two arrived at the last option late in the day and begged to see it, even though they were being waved away. “I saw his face light up. We went in and the Lord worked it out.” On move-in day, Rachel and her friend took Charlie to Walmart for start-up supplies and helped him get settled.
That’s where Love Worth Finding enters the story. “I bought me a DVD player because now I got a home,” Charlie said. “And the first thing I asked [Rachel and her friend] about was Adrian Rogers.” Charlie had remembered Pastor Rogers from an earlier period, before his 2½ years of homelessness. “I was on a channel, and Adrian Rogers come on. He was one of those preachers that was really teaching from the Bible, and not of the world.”
Rachel contacted LWF, which happily donated DVDs. “I didn’t know he had passed,” Charlie said of Pastor Rogers. “Passed? This guy, he sounds like he’s around the corner right now. This guy, he sounds like he’s alive! He’s got so many sermons that will reach out and bless you. He can teach the Scriptures to where you can understand it.”
As for Rachel, she enjoys meeting her new “old” friend for dinner or just to talk, despite the stares they get. “Even just walking into a buffet together you get looks,” she said. “It’s not normal.”
Or is it? Is love worth finding scheduled, expected, planned? Or is it God’s way of blessing people who otherwise wouldn’t give another a second glance? Could Rachel’s two years in Namibia during childhood as the daughter of missionary parents have been part of God’s preparation for this friendship? Could Charlie’s life experiences, shared with humility, encourage a younger believer?
“I think the Lord teaches me something every time I hang out with him,” Rachel said of Charlie. “He’s in the Word. I can tell he wants to speak wisdom into my life.”