Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 5, 2013

Among Houston’s Homeless

Chad Prigmore and I became friends four years ago. He was one of the first to follow my blog and to leave an encouraging comment. As a result, I started to read Chad’s blog. It didn’t take long for me to conclude that I had found a kindred spirit in Chad — a brother who shared the same concern for the least of these.

Although Chad and I had only corresponded by email, our missions ministry made a contribution to Bags of Hope, Chad’s initiative to provide basic items and Bibles to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Since then, Chad has moved to Boise, Idaho where he ministers to the homeless, to those in prison, and to those in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.

Over the past couple of years, our missions ministry has invested in Chad’s work in Idaho. He and his wife and son started a feeding program for the homeless. They prepare nourishing meals every week in their own kitchen and then feed as many as 150 homeless individuals every Sunday. They not only feed them, however, they also take the time to talk to them and to listen to their stories and to learn their names.

After years of emails and phone calls, Chad and I finally met in person for the very first time on Tuesday. Chad flew to Houston to meet with me and our missions council and to report to us about his work with the homeless. When we shook hands we both felt as though we had known one another for a lifetime. We both immediately felt at east and right at home and have talked almost non-stop about caring for the least of these.

Officer Giraldo and Chad Prigmore

Officer Giraldo and Chad Prigmore

Over the past couple of days I have introduced Chad to several of our urban partners. Early this morning, we drove to downtown Houston for a 6:00 AM appointment to join my friend Officer Jaime Giraldo of Houston Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team. We spent time with the homeless who sleep in Allen’s Landing, often described as “Houston’s heart” and our “Plymouth Rock” — the birthplace of the city of Houston.

The homeless starting their day at Allen's Landing.

The homeless starting their day at Allen’s Landing.

I appreciate Officer Giraldo and his compassionate concern for the homeless. The Homeless Outreach Team is doing a fantastic job of connecting Houston’s homeless to the resources and agencies that can help them to transition off the streets or that can provide them with basic medical and mental health services. Chad and I had an opportunity to see Officer Giraldo in action and also to chat with many of the homeless as they were waking up to start their day.

Chad talking with a homeless man at Allen's Landing.

Chad talking with a homeless man at Allen’s Landing.

Later in the morning we connected with the mobile medical unit that provides medical care for the homeless, the same unit that parked on our campus last month and provided medical care for Katy’s homeless. We also transported an alcoholic to Open Door Mission to receive much-needed help to take his first steps toward recovery and sobriety. I could not have asked for a better day than to spend time among Houston’s homeless with my friends Officer Giraldo and Chad.

Officer Giraldo assessing needs of a homeless man.

Officer Giraldo assessing the needs of a homeless man.

On our way back to Katy, Chad and I discussed the new leprosy of homelessness, drunkenness, and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Just as the people of Jesus’ day put distance between themselves and lepers, the people of our day tend to put distance between themselves and those who live on the streets or are addicted to drugs and alcohol. But, like Jesus, we can only hope to make a difference if we move in the direction of those who are in pain and in need.

Officer Giraldo checking on the welfare of a homeless man in a makeshift tent.

Officer Giraldo checking on the welfare of a homeless man in a makeshift tent.

The homeless do not need nor do they want for us to move away from them. Instead, this morning I found an eagerness on their part for us to move toward them and to engage them in conversation. We must be willing to get close enough to the homeless to receive their smell, to notice the color of their eyes, and to listen to their personal and often heart-rending stories. Only by doing so can we expect to bless them with the soothing and healing balm of our concern and to reaffirm their value in God’s eyes and our own.


Responses

  1. This message was so timely for me today. I walk early each morning along Buffalo Bayou near downtown. I often see evidence of the homeless who live under the bridge near my house, rarely seeing the person. Today I saw a woman picking up her sleeping mat and a gentleman’s dingy clothes hanging along a clothesline down by the bayou. I was talking to The Lord about how I might be able to love these people living around me. Thanks for the timely reminder and confirmation that this is what The Lord would have me do–love those whom our society has deemed unloveable and untouchable!

    • Thanks for sharing, Natalie. So many homeless live in the shadows of our peripheral vision. May God compel us to move in their direction and to love and care for them. As Mother Teresa often said, we should look for Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor. And, when we find Him, we should do for that person what Jesus would do. Thanks for your concern for the victims of human trafficking through your justice work and also for the least of these in our own community.

  2. Thank you Omar for “letting your light shine” amongst the homeless. Everyone of them has a story – Mmmmm! 🙂

    • Amen. Jackie. How I would love to sit and listen to each story. My heart hurts for those we visited yesterday. But, that hurt compels me to do more to help the homeless.

  3. Thank you Omar for such a wonderful couple of days in Houston. It was so great to finally meet you in person and I also felt like we had known each other our entire lives.

    The work that you and Kingsland are doing in your own backyard and all over the world is the great commission in action in such a bold and effective way. I learned so much from this trip and have faith that what I saw there in Houston can be transferred here to Boise as it has to so many other places.

    God Bless You,

    Chad

    P.S. I don’t expect a follow up reply until later next week. I know you are paddling like a crazy man for the next four days!

    • Hey, Chad. Thanks for coming to Katy. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together and appreciate so much the good work that you are doing among the homeless in Idaho. It’s a blessing to call you my friend and my brother. I start the Texas Water Safari in the morning. Thanks for your prayers! Talk to you soon.

  4. Hi Omar: I am Chad’ sister, Shaela and I have to say that over the years I have seen the love of our AWESOME LORD at work in my brother’s life. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am and always have been of my brother. God has chosen Chad for a very specific reason and HE knows what HE will enable Chad to do and whom he will be able to touch. I pray for his ministry service all the time and am so thankful that your church helped him and Laurie out and that they are now further along in their mission. Prayers for you and your service to our AMAZING HEAVENLY FATHER. Gods Blessings upon all the work you do in HIS NAME!!!

    • Thanks, Shaela. What a blessing it was for me to finally meet Chad. From the first time he left a comment on my blog, I sensed that he was a guy with a passionate heart for God and his kingdom. So grateful that our friendship has grown over the years, although we had never met face to face until recently. I look forward to seeing how God will continue to use Chad.


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