Imagine being asleep in your “nest”, which is outside, and you wake up to someone who weighs 300 pounds sitting on your chest! You can’t breathe from the compression, and you are being choked by the neck too. Raymond is 60 something years old and is originally from Indiana. He was in Chattanooga Tennessee in October, left November 1st to head south to Florida. He said one day it was warm, the next it turned cold and stayed cold. It was even cold in Georgia on his way to Florida…staying in the 40’s! Raymond hasn’t always lived out of doors. He had a home in Chattanooga. It’s taken him a while to get a home, for one reason and another.
Raymond does drink, he also has had a chest infection, and he smokes. He weighs maybe 120 and is tall. He has adhesive marks on his chest and a dressing over a vein in his arm. He was in the hospital for about two weeks, and lost a lot of weight. He had post traumatic stress disorder from the attack that he woke up to. He gives his survival as a blessing by the grace of God. He faked passing out and when the guy began to riffle through his pockets, he took spare beer bottles and beat the guy off of him. He was successful, the guy was arrested. It scared Raymond that he didn’t have a good night’s rest since then. He hasn’t been able to eat well, he has been drinking since he got out of the hospital to calm his nerves.
Raymond says he has been saved, that his salvation is Jesus and the Cross. He says he has been saved since he was 16, but he has backslid along the way. All he wants is to have peace. Peace of mind, peace of heart. The physical attack shook him pretty badly. It has made him decide to look for a home, and he intends to be somewhere by the first of the next month.
Many people choose to live on the streets, travel the roads. This is not the first time that I have heard stories of someone being attacked by another homeless person. Predators are a danger, whether it is from other homeless or from the community where someone lives. All most people want is to live peacefully, whether it is in a home or in a tent or a camp in the woods somewhere. Raymond has the chance to get out of the streets. Not everyone knows how. It doesn’t take too much to give someone a helping hand, pay for an inexpensive motel room for a night or two, take someone under your wing, offer them shelter. There’s a church near where Raymond lives. When it got cold, they opened their doors and fed them for a few days. It didn’t take much to do this, but it created a feeling of respect between the homeless of the town toward the church. And isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do?