A quick update on Rich, a 26yo drug addict who was living in an alley off of Ashland Avenue in the Near West Side of Chicago. I checked on him this morning to see if the new blankets, sleeping bag, coats and socks made a difference on his night. As a note, it dipped down to -20 degrees at 2am.
Well, Rick is doing well and from what I witnessed had quite a night of revelations. As I previously mentioned, he lost all of his belongings yesterday and was broken at the thought of freezing during the approaching night. Any loss is an extreme loss when someone has so little. His feet were soaked and he feared he’d get more frostbite that evening and perhaps lose his feet altogether. He had already lost two toes the previous winter. Rick looked absolutely broken; and I’ve often witnessed this reaction of someone who’s in constant fear of losing all of their possessions on the nightly basis.
With the desperation and uncertainly of how to survive the night, Rich lost his will to live. He decided that he wanted to commit suicide by jumping off the Paulina Street Bridge over I-290. As he walked toward this fate, he started to weep and prayed with each step for the suffering to come to an end. His tears instantly freezing on his unshaven cheeks.
At that same time, I was driving down Ashland saying a quick prayer to see someone to help. Both of our prayers were answered. I met someone to help; and Rick had all new belongings to survive the night with some minimal comfort.
When I saw Rich this morning, he said that he had often heard other homeless thank God; but had never seen evidence of it himself. Rick confessed that he had no other explanation other than to admit that God had done exactly what he asked.
As we spoke, Rick emptied his backpack with all the heroine needles, spoons and bags he had on his possession. He said that he was so very tired of being a slave to this evil addiction.
Upon request, I drove Rick to the Pacific Garden Mission about two miles away to enroll in their homeless addiction program.
I don’t know what Rick’s future will hold, but it is a beautiful thing to see someone with hope. I do know that Rick has a tremendous debt to pay as he climbs out of the hole of addiction; and that path will be very difficult. I also know that if he asks; God will continue to listen and help!
God’s speed Rick, we’ll all be praying for you!