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What Tommy Taught Me

Our church’s walk with a homeless man marked us indelibly.
What Tommy Taught Me

Tommy walked into our worship gathering almost three years ago. With his bushy red hair, he was hard to miss. Every Sunday he would stumble in, taking the last seat of the last row in the worship center. The smell of alcohol and homelessness surrounded him.

But so did our church family.

Tommy wasn’t the first homeless person to walk into our lives and he certainly wouldn’t be the last. But we also knew that someone like Tommy didn’t want to be crowded, so we gave him his space … until he began weeping. Without fail Tommy would weep during the song after the Sunday message and without fail someone in our church would wrap an arm around him, making sure he didn’t weep alone. When the gathering ended, Tommy would wait in the back to shake my hand and then leave for home—a tent nestled far back in the woods.

Having walked with some friends from homelessness to holistic sufficiency, I asked others about Tommy. The word on the street was that he had been estranged ...

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