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“…And by calling a homeless rover…” – The Way of the Pilgrim
St. Theophan the Recluse taught that, if we are to be Christians at all, we must struggle: no podvig, no progress. Who would see this more clearly than a homeless man?
The news media is full of stories of real struggle: homeless families on the streets, homeless students flooding American schools, shelters full, food pantries empty... In the midst of all of these "stories" its often still hard to see the real people in them - real hunger, real pain, real struggle, real faith.
Obadiah is one such real homeless man. Obadiah is now an Orthodox Christian but his story of struggle is all too real. I know him from the streets outside St. Brigid's Fellowship (an Orthodox parish homeless outreach) in Santa Barbara,CA. Obadiah has often had no place to lay his head, but in his daily battle to survive on the streets perhaps appreciates, even better than I, where his home is.
Obadiah has been homeless and living on the streets for years but he was charismated in 1986 by Fr. Michael Evans in Tucson, AZ. It was there that Obadiah fell in love with the beauty of the Lord’s house. For three years he has been our neighbor, coming not only for services often, but for food, clothing, guidance and friendship.
Our neighbor, Obadiah, says, “The friendship at St. Brigid’s connects the Church to the streets.”
For his friendship I am deeply grateful. To have, in some way, become his companion has brought my own struggles into focus. I have learned more from him than I have taught. Pray for our sakes this pilgrim, Obadiah, will tarry with us in the neighborhood!
And pray for and, if you are moved, please contribute to the efforts of FOCUS North America as it supports works like St. Brigid’s where, as one has said, “Christ has come to make the rich poor and the poor holy.”
"Notes from the streets" by Fr. Jon-Stephen Hedges