I’ve got a dull ache this morning for a man I met on the street yesterday afternoon. I don’t know if he made it through the cold night last night (it was down around 0 degrees). Today I can’t stop thinking about him, wondering how he’s doing, praying that God would rescue him. His name is Kirk. He stopped me on the street and asked me for some money. When I asked him if he had an actual need I could meet (since I didn’t have cash to give him) he was honest enough to tell me that what he needed was a beer. He settled for a burrito and so I took him inside, bought him some lunch and sat down with him while he warmed up and ate. He was so embarrassed. He explained his situation – moved to Missoula from Louisiana in order to be with the girlfriend he had gotten pregnant. He was an alcoholic who had managed to clean himself up. He was supposed to never take another drink. He had managed to stay on the wagon for a year and half, but when he slipped up his girlfriend kicked him out. So here he was sitting in Taco Del Sol, reeking of alcohol, unshaved, unkempt, broke, broken and homeless. For some reason God had brought this man to me. How would I respond? How would I love this man whom everyone else in his life had rejected?

And so I ask that you pray for Kirk. I don’t know how Jesus wants us to love people like this. The unlovable. The broken. Those who would make our comfortable and clean little communities very uncomfortable. Those who might turn our lives upside down if we really let them in. Pray for us. We desperately want to love people like this. In many ways I realize that I’m not there yet. Kirk is a normal guy who has made some bad choices. The gap between him and me is not as far as it might appear simply by looking at us.

As we were walking into the taco shop Kirk held back, embarrassed about what the nice polished and clean people inside might think of him, drawing close to their personal space, being close to their food. “Kirk, look through that window at those people,” I told him, “they are just as, if not more, messed up than you are – they are just better at hiding it. And I’m worse than all of them. You are a person, a human being – don’t let anyone take your humanity from you.” Kirk’s head lifted and followed me inside. For a few minutes he was just like everyone else.