Last summer, I came across a man who had curled up on a bed of mulch in one of the church parking lots because he couldn’t move very well from place to place between the cold weather shelter drop off and pick up each day.

As I would later learn, the man’s life had been rudely disrupted just six years prior. He’d spent much of his life running a flooring company and being responsible for himself, until he got sick. While he survived a series of massive strokes, his left eye went blind, wrist curled into a ball and leg went completely dead, such that he could only drag it slowly behind him.

Fiercely independent, he refused the most logical solution—assisted living. But his minimal social security left him grossly deficient on income enough to rent an apartment and manage his extensive needs. The longer he spent on the streets, the angrier he became and more he scraped a narrow amount of joy from the bottom of a liquor bottle.

Intervening in this man’s circumstances would eventually require a lot of everyone involved in our ministry. Volunteers would pick him up and bring him to us when he got stuck somewhere in the community. Many hours would be spent in the ER. The phone would ring late at night because he had fallen somewhere and ended up in the hospital.

He would make three laps through our respite shelter before finally landing in safe and stable housing. But do you know, the thing this man remembers most about his journey off the street is the people from the churches of Fredericksburg that stopped long enough to notice he existed and get him the help he needed.