Revolution Hawaii delegates makes an unforgettable friend.
By Julia Kleemann –
On my first night of homeless outreach in Honolulu’s Chinatown, I was introduced to a smiling, laughing, middle-aged guy sitting on the sidewalk, cracking jokes. This guy was Dewey.
The next few times I saw Dewey, he was hanging out with his friends in A`ala Park, wearing a ratty old “Angry Birds” t-shirt and torn-up slacks, chillin’ on his cardboard. As if life on the streets wasn’t tough enough, Dewey fought addiction and depression, like many who experience homelessness.
“I’ve been really depressed,” he told me once in a soft, sad voice. “I know God loves me, but I keep messing up.”
However, in spite of the hopelessness of homelessness and his other struggles, Dewey is the most wholesomely joyful person I have ever known. I know without a doubt that the joy of the Lord overflows inside of Dewey. A true “child at heart,” his toothless grin, gentle spirit, and sweet giggles are a reminder that the joy of Christ remains despite the darkness of the world.
One night I was sitting in the pews of our church, waiting for our evening service to start, and in walked Dewey, hair combed neatly to the side, Hawaiian aloha shirt tucked into his clean slacks, rocking his regular pair of beat-up sneakers. All I could do was smile, seeing him all dressed up and ready for church.
After the service, during dinner, I sat next to Dewey. While we were eating, he pulled out a little notebook and started showing me the sermon notes he had taken. Scrawled in writing that I couldn’t read were pages of notes that painted a picture of the hope that Dewey found in Jesus. He was a hurting soul, burdened and broken by the world, but he was desperately clinging to Jesus.
One Sunday afternoon, I found Dewey hanging out with his friends in A`ala Park, as usual. We sat down to chat and talked for almost an hour about how life was going, how he was struggling to stay sober, how all of his stuff had been stolen, and everything else in between. We had no agenda, except to enjoy each other’s company, take in the sunshine, and talk about life.
When it was time to go, I had the chance to pray for him, specifically naming each of the struggles or praises he had told me about, and asking the Lord to work miracles in his life. I finished praying and looked up at him, and saw wide eyes and a look of complete surprise on his face.
“You really listened to what I was saying,” he said. “You guys actually care.”
When you might be the only person to look someone in the eyes, hold their hand, or simply give your time to sit and be present, you realize that something as small as listening can reflect the unconditional love of God.
Dewey taught me what it means to truly follow Christ. To find hope in an ever-present, always-loving, all-knowing God. To wholeheartedly love God and his children. To never give up on God, no matter how many times you screw up. To fall back on the Lord when you’re too burdened by pain. He taught me that to listen is to love, that joy is independent of circumstances, and that everyone was made in the image of God. Dewey made me fall in love with the hurting and the lost, and he awakened me to the passion that the Lord has for the poor and oppressed.
Last month, the Lord called Dewey home. I have to fight the sadness that I want to feel, because for us that are still here on earth, death sucks. Dewey allowed me to experience genuine faith, and blessed me more than I ever could have blessed him. For that, I am forever grateful to have known him, even if for a short time. Although I’m sad, I can find joy, because I know that Dewey loved a gracious and compassionate God. Dewey is no longer chained by his addictions, burdened by his depression, or crumbling under hopelessness. Dewey is free. When I see him next, it’ll be better than ever before.
Sometimes, life really does suck. The pain and suffering out there is real. When you’re feeling down or when life isn’t all that great, remember that God is good even when life isn’t. Think of Dewey, and know that you are loved by a forgiving God who will never leave you.