Last Saturday, Rock City Church took over a laundry mat on High Street in the heart of Columbus. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s not exactly the nice side of town. Ambulance and Fire sirens were heard throughout the day. It’s not someplace you’d want to find yourself alone, or after dark. This is exactly why Rock City chose this location and these people to show the love of Christ. You can see the recap video below, but there was another takeaway for me on Saturday….
Soon after we arrived, a homeless man that attends Rock City every Sunday (and even helps with load in at 6am) approached me. He explained that he pushed a grocery cart full of dirty laundry nearly two miles to get it cleaned. He explained that he had a bad back and asked if we could give him a ride back to his “place”. When his laundry was clean, we loaded everything up and followed his directions to the area he calls “home”. Off of 5th street, two sets of tracks through high weeds led us to a tarp covered tent. Less than 30 feet away were train tracks. No air conditioning. No front door. No welcome mat. This was his normal. He lives in a tent next to a railroad tracks and calls it “home”.
When we returned to the laundry mat, I was sharing what we had seen with my good friend Nate (seen in the video below explaining Laundry Love). Nate said “that isn’t bad…I’ll show you bad…come on”. Within a few minutes “the boy”, Nate and I were making our way to a backyard not far from the Laundry Mat. There we found a cardboard box flattened as a mattress. There was no tarp, no tent, nothing remotely close to what we had seen earlier. There was a flat piece of cardboard. Nate was right, this was bad. Yet this is what our new friend Carmen calls “home”. She arrived a few minutes later.
Disheveled and maybe even a bit disoriented, Carmen explained that she was diabetic and needed insulin. She told us a story of almost dying the night before from falling in front of a car in the dark. We offered what food and water we had and listened. It was as we were getting ready to leave that she said the words I won’t soon forget….”wanna do some praying”. We agreed immediately and knelt down around her as she sat in a chair resting her weary body. We prayed for her protection, peace, health and thanked God for sparing her life the night before. I prayed for her purpose and that God would be so close to her each moment.
You don’t have to get on a plane to do missions work (although there is NOTHING wrong with that). People in your city, your hometown are alone, broken and need Jesus. They are living under tarps and sleeping on cardboard. They need someone to hold their hand and pray for them. You never know, they may even ask you for it like our friend Carmen did.