Saturday, September 22, 2007

Carl's Story

In 1991 Carl fought for his life after a gunshot to the spine in Iraq. After rehabilitation and many months of aggressive pain relievers and muscle relaxants, he walked out of the hospital with a new fight for his life, drug addiction. With no family and a nice monthly paycheck from the government he went straight to the streets wandering from fix to fix. After a decade of feeding his addiction he hit rock bottom, realizing there must be more to life. In 2005 he found himself in Portland and put himself into an addiction program. He also started coming to Nightstrike under the Burnside Bridge every Friday night to get a hot home made meal, receive an occasional haircut, and have his feet washed.

Two years later, on a chilly fall night a wide-eyed nervous young man kneeled, removed Carl’s shoes, and washed his feet. Weeks passed in a blur with the hecticness of the Christmas season. A month later Carl sat down in a chair under the Burnside Bridge with a pan of steaming water in the crisp January air placed at his feet. The same young man walks by, and Carl asks if he is washing feet again tonight…“Again?” I ask in a daze. Carl explains that I did a really good job when I washed his feet months ago. I was hosting tables that night, but God had greater plans. I kneeled at his feet for the second time, of many more to come, and asked him how his week was going. He was finishing at the Culinary Institute, working 60 hours a week in a kitchen, and had been clean for 2 years.

For 5 months, through Nightstrike, I had the opportunity to develop a relationship with Carl - to listen, talk, serve, encourage, pray, and love on Carl. It took minutes for me to share this story with you, but it was months before Carl was able to completely share his story on one tear-filled evening when he told me he had given his life up to Christ. Over the course of this time he finished up his externship at a restaurant and moved out into a place of his own. Carl’s story was 17 years in the making from that day he got shot in the back. It took a lot of patience, love, and the life transforming power of the Holy Spirit to get to that point.

On any Friday night there are hundreds of “Carl’s” - in all stages - searching for hope underneath the Burnside Bridge. And over the course of any month there are hundreds of nervous wide-eyed individuals of all ages and stages in life, stepping outside of their comfort zone, desiring to glorify and serve God underneath the Burnside Bridge.

1 comment:

Melany said...

What a neat testimony of how lives are transformed by the Spirit of God working through His people.