CHAPTER ONE: A Man in the Street

manonthestreet… God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7 (GW)

It was Barry’s first day of work as the leader of a homeless shelter called the Topeka Rescue Mission. This is where people who don’t have a home arrive to live and eat. Barry never worked with people who were homeless before and didn’t really know what he would do all day. He sat in his tiny office and talked to some people who were living there, but most of the day wasn’t very exciting – until the phone rang that is!

A man who owned a store down the street called and was not very happy. He saw a man walking down the street and, because he didn’t like the way he was dressed or how he walked, the store owner thought the man was up to no good. Because the man looked like he didn’t have much money, the store owner assumed he was staying at the Mission and he wanted Barry to go out and tell the man to “stay away from his store!”

Barry was a little bit nervous when he walked out of the building because he had no idea what to expect. He looked and saw the man limping down the street towards the Mission. The poor man’s pants had fallen down and he was having a really hard time walking. The man who had called on the phone thought this was because the man on the street had done something wrong. But when the man came closer, Barry wasn’t so sure…

The man’s eyes were very sad and his face was very old. He came up to Barry and softly asked him if he had a belt.  Barry was surprised.  Why would a man who was up to no good be taking the time to ask for a belt? Barry realized that the store owner had been wrong. This old man had not been trying to cause trouble at all. As Barry talked to the man, he found out he had been in an accident and now his back really hurt. That was why he was slouched over and had trouble walking. He was also so poor that he didn’t have enough money to buy pants that fit him or a belt to hold up the old pants he did wear. Barry got the man a belt and helped him put it on. The man shook Barry’s hand, thanked him and said, “God bless you.” Then he walked away and Barry never saw him again.

The Bible tells us that people look at what others look like on the outside, but God sees inside – to their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). That means He knows what each one of us looks like, inside and out. The store owner judged the old man based on what he looked like. Barry almost did the same thing but took the time to get to know him instead. When he did, he realized the man looked the way he did because of some struggles in life that weren’t his fault. It made Barry happy to be able to help the man, and it made God happy too.

Instead of listening to other people when they tell stories or make fun of other people, we should try to get to know the person instead. We might find out that the person is really nice and that they make a super friend! God made everybody special, no matter what others might say.

If anyone ever tells stories that aren’t true about you, remember that no matter what they say – YOU are a very special person and you are VERY loved! God loves everyone else on the planet too and wants us to be nice to them. It’s wrong to judge people based on how they look, but it’s never wrong to show love.

Dear God, Help me to see people the way You see them and to be nice to everybody. Help me to never make fun of people or make up stories that aren’t nice. Instead, help me to be kind to everyone and make new friends! Thank You that no matter what anyone else says – You love each one of us SO much…and that includes me!  I love You too.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen!