“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”
I was simply expecting a nice family vacation to New York City. But, something unexpected happened while I was there. I was not expecting to feel convicted of being unloving and unkind, to feel such a burden for those in need, or, at the same time, to feel so much love for a perfect stranger. His name was Jacob. So, this blog post is for him, though he will most likely never read it.
For every bulb that lights the Big Apple at night, there is a person in need right under those same lights. We are often too distracted and dazzled to look down for a minute and realize that we’ve been overlooking and ignoring something bigger than all the skyscrapers in the NY skyline. We are blinded by everything around us, focusing on and only pleasing ourselves. And by ‘we,’ I mean myself.
My eyes were open right after I saw this young man, he must have been around my age. He was a quadriplegic; he couldn’t sit straight or hold the bills people were handing him in his hands. I wish I could say I had a compassionate heart and loved on him, but I didn’t. I simply walked up to him, gave him some money, smiled as I said hello, and walked away. Right after I walked away, it hit me like a train. How could I not love him as I know Jesus would have done? I didn’t even ask him his name…
After that big slap in the face, I purposely stopped looking up at the buildings and started looking down at the sidewalks. I saw so many people in need- the homeless woman shivering and sobbing in the rain, the blind man walking alone in the subway trying to find his way back to the city, the man asking for a hot meal… and then, in the middle of Times Square on a Thursday night, I met Jacob.
He wasn’t like any of the others I saw. He wasn’t begging for money, food, or drugs. He was playing this little drum, making music in the middle of an already extremely loud and crowded place. The only thing is that… he didn’t have a leg- or either one of his arms. Yet there he was, in front of hundreds of people who looked at him with a mix of awe and wonder as well as pity and disgust, finding a way to make it through the day.
I was shocked. Not only by the fact that the only functional limb on his body was his left leg, but that even then, he was making music in front of others. How could he play music? well, he had tennis wristbands, where his biceps should have been, and used them to attach drumsticks to himself so he could use them as arms and play the drums. I had never felt so compelled to pour God’s love to a perfect stranger in front of others, and not care what they would think.
I walked up to him and patiently waited for him to finish his song. I sat down next to him. As much as I wanted to talk to him, he wanted to talk as well- he just wanted someone who would stop for a minute and listen to him. He told me his accident happened 2 years ago and he’s been really depressed since then, he’s 24 years old, and he’s playing drums on the streets so he can move back into his apartment and help his friend (I forget her name) pay for some things since she’s the one who’s helped him through all this. Not only is he handicapped, but the money he makes he freely gives to his friend as a sign of gratitude? I couldn’t believe it. I just sat there listening and all he asked for was a hug. I gave him a hug and walked back to my hotel room holding back all my tears.
The next day, Friday, I could not get him out of my head. I wished I had shared the Gospel with him, told him God loves him, told him God works all things for our good, and even when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is still there. At night, right before I went to bed, I prayed with my brother that God would give me the chance to see him again and plant the seed in his heart so he may come to know Christ one day, if he didn’t already. I wrote him a long note and put my Bible in my backpack, having faith I would see him the next day.
All saturday, as I went about my day, with my Bible in my backpack, I asked God to give me the faith I needed to believe that He would really let me find Jacob again. It was almost midnight and all my family was walking back to the hotel when I decided I would go to Times Square and walk around until I found him. I knew he was there; I was just afraid I might arrive too late. As I approached the lights, I prayed and prayed. When we (my brother, sister, and I) were about to leave, I found him.
I immediately took out my Bible and walked up to him and his friend who was taking care of him. I told her that I didn’t know if they remembered me but I had been thinking about Jacob and the only thing I could offer him was my own Bible. She told me she remembered me and that he had been praying, but that he didn’t have a Bible. Once again I sat down next to him. This time with tears running down my face, in front of a lot of of people, with my Bible in my hand. I told him I wasn’t sure if he remembered me, but he did. I told him God loved him, that he was an inspiration and a blessing in my life, and that I wanted him to have hope. Again, all he asked for was a hug. I gave him a hug and my Bible.
I walked away crying. I cried because he was so thankful and humble, and because I felt I had done God’s will. But most importantly, because once again I realized how perfect and loving God is. He answered Jacob’s and my prayers! He used me to give him the Bible he had been praying for. He gave me faith to believe that I would see Jacob again! He gave me courage to show His love to someone I didn’t know, in front of hundreds of people who faded into the background. He used me to shed light in Jacob’s life as well as those who saw us at that moment. He gave me the urge to buy a new Bible in May, the first one in over 8 years, in order for me to give it away in a different city in August. He used Jacob to bless me, to humble me, to grow me. HE is PERFECT. And even if I never see Jacob again, I have the hope he will know Christ.