06 Mar People Come and Go.
This story is shared by William Bumphus, Director of Wheeler Mission’s Shelter for Men.
People come and go, especially in this cold.
It’s Winter Contingency at Wheeler Mission. And right now, our Shelter for Men (SFM) hosts upwards of 500 men every night. For thousands in Indianapolis, we’re “door number one” for help and services. We meet everyone from the chronically homeless, to the severely addicted, to those who’ve suddenly lost their homes.
Some guys stick with Wheeler for further services, while others may stay just one night for a meal and bed—guys like *John. When I think of John, Hebrews 13:2 jumps out: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
People come and go, and we have NO idea what God has planned.
Last year, John came to our Shelter for Men on Nov. 6, 2018. I looked at his record and saw he would come to us for help about once a year. And this past November, he came filthy and worn, with bugs in and around his head and hair.
If a guest comes to us in that state, we step in right away and give them what they need to clean up. John took a shower, but it didn’t make much difference; the bugs were still there. Other guests were uncomfortable, literally jumping away from him as he made his way toward the cafeteria.
Staff stopped John and told him he had to wash his hair. And he got angry—cussing and yelling. So I said, “Hey! We want you to eat! We just don’t want you to go in there like that. Let’s go on upstairs, get you cleaned up, and come back down for dinner.”
For the whole elevator ride, John was yelling and I just watched and prayed. We got upstairs and I asked if I could help wash his hair. And as soon as his head hit the water, the water turned black.
Bugs were falling out of his hair and John was still angry and cussing. But as soon as I put my hand on his head…he relaxed. Suddenly, he was cooperative and quiet. And then we sat there with me brushing his hair, pulling knots out, getting the bugs out…and he was calm. By the time we finished and his hair was clean, he was totally peaceful.
My colleague came to help out and as I turned to leave, I stopped and asked John, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” He said, “Yeah, man, I know Jesus Christ. My father’s a pastor.” And I said, “Well, you know Jesus loves you, right?” And he said, “Yeah…I know Jesus loves me.”
And that was that.
People come and go, and we never know how long we have together.
On November 7, that very night, John passed away in his sleep on our dayroom floor.
Once a year, John would come for just one day! And on his one day this past November, John met Jesus all over again. I’m convinced that before he arrived, he knew he needed help—his hair was full of bugs! And you know what? I think he may have prayed. And I think God answered by leading him to Wheeler Mission.
I’m also convinced that the encounter he had with me, putting my hands in his hair and reminding him that Jesus Christ still loves him, was all he needed to surrender to Christ.
People come and go, but fleeting time is significant.
The chaos of Winter Contingency, the lack of space in our building, and the long nights…they’re ALL worth it. We just never know who God will bring us. We never know when we’ll be with someone who needs to meet Jesus. We simply must be ready.
Are you ready?
*Name has been changed to protect anonymity.