A veteran who served our country for 20 years of his life. A man who's wife took advantage of him in his weakest moments, leaving him with nothing. An individual with no money, no home, no family whom I ate chili dogs and drank hot chocolate with underneath the Burnside Bridge on a cold Friday night.
Frank is a hard worker despite his psychological problems flared by an estranged wife. I don't even think Mike Rowe could handle Frank's job cleaning rat cages at the VA Animal Research Facility in Portland. Every one of Franks pay checks is earned with great love, and it is surely not because of what the work entails.
The majority of his pay check is put towards child support for his two children. The remaining penny's are put into his savings account so that he can one day pay to have a divorce. The divorce is his highest priority, though a small inconvenience that Frank must complete to circumvent the restraining order, allowing him to send letters to his children.
Frank does have one living relation locally, whom even provided a house to stay at, his mother. However, two years ago she suffered a sever stroke leaving very little of his mother left. With his mother requiring constant attention to live day in and day out, Frank was forced onto the streets. He now has a place to stay at the Salvation Army. Though "a place to stay" can mean very different things depending on your context. For me, it means a roof over my head for when I'm not at work or school, a place to make and eat a warm meal when I am hungry, a place to sit on a couch and relax with a book or watch Lost, and a warm bed to curl up in when I am tired or sick. For Frank a place to stay is nothing more then a hard cot to sleep on at night.
With nowhere to go during the day, Frank is left to wandering the streets. A few weeks ago he discovered Nightstrike underneath the Burnside Bridge on Friday evening. He has come back every Friday since, and I was blessed with the opportunity to hear why.
"It is obvious that you people serving - love us."
Those words, which struck straight to my heart, are still ringing in my ears. Even now, it makes my heart beat quicken thinking about it. This was a complete affirmation of the work God is doing underneath the Burnside Bridge, and I wasn't even looking for one! My love alone for God's creation is what has been drawing me there on Friday night for the last 4 months, regardless of how small of an impact God would use me for.
I asked him if he knew why we loved people so much, and was able to share about this love that stems out of the very core of my faith.
He explained how this love was demonstrated to him on our faces, by our attitudes, in our eagerness to serve, and through our desire to meet his physical needs. He said the best meal of his week is Friday evening underneath the Burnside Bridge. He confessed that in the short time he has been coming, he has already eaten the best Taco soup and the best Chili Dogs of his entire life. That is high praise coming from a man in his 50's.
He went on to explain how he has no one, his heart yearns for joy as he drowns in his loneliness. During the week all he has his is Rock-n-Roll, "It keeps me sane". He said when he comes down on Friday, he feels like he is worth something, he feels loved, he is made complete.
Frank has hope. He has a better income as of late. But above all else, he is wrestling to rebuild his relationship with God, to start being a Christian again. Resentment holds a strong grip on Franks heart. He needs prayer. He needs strength. He needs to experience Jesus love in his life. He has experienced Jesus love in his life, underneath the Burnside Bridge on Friday night.