Spending Easter in a Walmart parking lot. I thought it would be closed by now but I think they are staying open. Back here in the overflow people aren’t here to shop. Some are here to hustle, some are here to live, Some are down and out and don’t know what to do or don’t want to do what they need to do. Some, like us are just passing through. In the 30+ walmarts we have called our overnight home, the story is the same. Here in lies the struggle, and this rhetorical question. How do you minister to the hustler? Do you give him money and reward his game? Do you call him on his stuff and make him defensive? Do you just listen? Do you take a chance and ask for the truth? Does he or she even give you a chance to speak?
On the way back to the RV from a Walmart (paying my dues for parking here) run. I am flagged down. I choose not to ignore the human being asking for my assistance but I pray for discernment, try not to judge and try not to (and fail at trying not to) jump to the inevitable conclusion that they are asking for money. This time, the guy never delivers, he sets up the story demonstrates his need and pauses, he never goes for the close, instead he lingers, hoping I will make him an offer. I don’t, I ask him unrelated questions like how long have you been here? Where are you from (he’s already told me this) where are you going? (he already told me this). eventually he gives up and I walk back to the RV.
Now there is this guy, he sees, knows I am here, he knows I am sleeping here, he sees whats in my truck. If her were the worst of the worst, knows more than enough to make my life hell. He’s on my internal watch list. I work past the suspicion and pray. What do I do? Lord I am willing, what should I do? Water, food, listen. It’s not audible but it’s a feeling that I have. How do I show a hustler the love of Christ with out feeding his habits and without being confrontational. I can’t wish him well and tell him to be blessed without physically representing my spiritual wishes. So I grab a bottle of cold water and some trail mix. My last 3 dollars that I have in the RV, pray again for discernment and walk back across the lot.
Now that you have read this, this far, I should warn you it doesn’t work out so well, nor does it work out so bad, it just kinda works, MEH.
I say hi and offer him a cold drink. He takes it. I offer him some trail mix, he turns me down insulted like. “I don’t need your food” … He talks, tells me his story, the details change a little, but the basics are still there. I ask more questions and I listen. He says he wants someone to talk to, so I listen. I pray that God will give me the words to say if any. But I stay silent because nothing comes to mind. He proceeds to talk in circles, and underhandedly insult me, He calls me soft, asks if I’m a mama’s boy, gets mad at me because I won’t jump his car with my truck … that is still hooked up to the RV and across the lot. He continues to tell me he needs money, his family doesn’t have money, he not rich, can’t call someone for money. He dances around actually asking for money like a boxer avoiding a strong lead jab.
He asks me probing questions, I answer them and ask the same in return. He asks me to mess with his battery while he tries to start his car. Gets mad when I don’t do it his way. In all this time I have said maybe 5 words in 15 minuets. He can’t push my buttons, he can’t get what he wants, he doesn’t want I have … He keeps talking and making assumptions. He pulls out the mother card … his mom had a pacemaker and didn’t love him as much as his brother. I ask about the pacemaker, he gets pissed because out of all his story that’s what I picked up. (but his story was justifying his claim that I am a soft mommas boy, or because he thinks I’m a mama’s boy talking about his mother will meet his goal) I don’t respond to his anger, just say I am listening. FINALLY he’s off his game and tells me some partial truths. He finally admits where he’s from, he lies about where he’s going, and what he is doing. He interlaces partial truths with partial lies. At one point he tells me “To go smoke a joint, mr. colorado” I laugh … he asks for pot. Again I don’t have what he wants. I was out there for over a half an hour.
Praying and listening trying to discern if I should call him on his Shit, you know in love. He finally shuts up, and my thoughts align. I address his questions and immediate needs. WE can fix his cable, I’ll help him take his battery to autozone (across the street) to get it charged. I can’t give him money, I can help him with his other needs … All he wants is money or maybe pot. We talk about easter (the fact it’s easter) he waves me off. Mid sentence he shouts to someone from across the lot to come over and give him a jump. He tells the new guy his story, the details vary, he is off his game. the other guy gives him a jump, realizes the play and excuses himself. I stand there watch the guy pickup. It ends here, I excuse my self and head back to the RV. He drives off, circles the lot, and parks in another spot. MEH.
As I sit here and type this I wonder why, and a little WTF? Yet, I have compassion for guys like this. The answer has become all to clear. These are those for whom Christ died. The homeless meth addict looking for another score, the hustler, the down and out, the hopeless, the broken, even the broken that do not know they are so.