At the church where I work we get a fair number of people off the street who call or come by asking for some level of financial support. For some it is a request for gas so that they can stay warm overnight in their car. For others it is a request for a bag of groceries. Still others are looking for a stay in a local motel or help with their rent or utilities. We do what we can to respond to such requests with both compassion and generosity. But it’s never enough to fix their need.
One of the first people I met upon arriving at Our Savior’s was a homeless man named Bill. He knows where the various services were in our community – which churches he can go to once a week to get a hot meal, which restaurants will give him a free cup of coffee, etc. Bill fell into a routine of asking us just for a jar of peanut butter and maybe some crackers once a week. After a while we started to refer to him as “Peanut Butter Bill.” You will see him throughout the area almost always walking. He was not the type to stand still very long and almost never does any panhandling. He attended a couple of our services – even came to a pot-luck once.
Peanut Butter Bill has multiple issues. Besides being homeless he appears to suffer with some sort of mental illness. It’s difficult to carry on a conversation with him. He can answer a few basic questions before he gets confused and just repeats his answers.
Peanut Butter Bill hasn’t been around in a while. We haven’t seen walking around. No one seems to know where he is or if he is okay. My prayer is that he found a more forgiving climate to hang out in or that he got into a program that allows him to stay off the streets. My concern is that he is not okay and that something has happened to Bill. From the little I know him there would be no one to report him missing. No where to go looking for him.
And so I can’t help but wonder if we were ‘entertaining angels?’ Did I do enough to minister to Peanut Butter Bill? Will I ever see him again? Does anybody miss Peanut Butter Bill?