Monday, March 05, 2007

Wed 21st Feb 07

Jason has been away for a couple of weeks, I am told he has been picked up by Social Services and is in a 'secure' juvenile center. This highlights one of the problems with relationships on the street. People just come and go without any warning or explanation. They can be picked up(jailed), taken to hospital or they might just head out of town for a while. Often when they head off it's not that they don't have time to give you advance notice, just that they don't think to do so. Compared to normal Eastern Suburbs life where knowing your family and friends locations and movement plans is a very high priority, it's quite a difficult change to get used to.

I got talking to a guy(BJ) who had just got out of prison yesterday, after a few years. BJ spent all his time working out and had plenty of bulk, a shaved head and a light high pitched voice that contradicted his physical image. At first he was a little concerning as, half drunk, he kept hugging, slapping, and pushing us around but it was in a friendly way. He said he would probably be out for a few months before he mucked up and headed back inside. I always thought it was a bit of a cliche about ex cons not being able to cope with the freedom and responsibility of the 'outside' but he said that was exactly how he felt. He liked the ease of routine and structure provided there, and thought there was no possible life he could build out here. This is an issue I come across more often now. Even if someone wants to change, then what future can I/we/society offer them? All their friends and life experience are in another system of culture and to make a solid attempt of change would mean leaving that(and friends) all behind. Then there was his despair that there wasn't any jobs he thought he could do. I suggested physical trainer, and he seemed to like that. He asked me about God and we chatted for a couple of hours and he just could not believe you can't get into Heaven without Jesus. He asked me at least twenty times "So if you live a really good life helping people and never do anything wrong then you can't get into Heaven without Jesus?.. that's mucked up!??" shaking his head. Before he left I invited him to come to Alpha and (as he had nothing else to do, and nothing to loose, before heading back 'inside') he accepted the invitation. (He stopped me last night to confirm it was still on this Wednesday :)

Warren was feeling crook again and asked me to call the ambulance for another try. While we were waiting the Salvo outreach van pulled up and we went and talked to them. Warren asked them for a lift to hospital and they were happy to do so when they were finished, which was good. So I canceled the ambulance and they took him up there where he got some treatment.

Late in the night I was sitting with some people and I heard screaming from across the road. As I got up I saw an adult guy(indigenous) walk away from the area and his girlfriend (14yo white street girl) stumbled across the road and collapsed at our feet. He had attacked her and been kicking her head, after an argument. She was convulsing on the ground and it looked like there was a sharp dent in her forehead. I went to the pay phone, called an ambulance, and returned to help. There is not much street knowledge of first aid other than 'don't move them', and even that rule is often ignored. I reached down to check her pulse but was really doing it to provide her with a bit of human contact while we waited, as she was in such distress. As I reached another street girl shouted not to touch her, as the boyfriend was watching from across the road, in the dark, like a wolf at the edge of the forest, and she said if I touched her then he would come after me too. She cried out for a cigarette to smoke while we waited, one was lit and passed to her. After the ambulance took the girl away I asked someone what the her name was so I might visit her in the hospital the next day. I was told not to visit her because if the boyfriend found out, again, he would come after me.

Later the boyfriend and his brother came over and the brother said 'it was ok to beat up women but this time his brother had gone too far' and he would take care of it. Then they just played around together (pretend martial arts) and were all happy and smiling. I went up to the brother and asked if I could have permission to visit the girl, and was told to ask the boyfriend. So I went ans sat next to the boyfriend and asked him if I could go and visit her in hospital, and he said if she was in hospital then he would visit her. Then he broke down and started crying and asked me to pray. So we put our arms around each other's shoulders and I spent some time praying for him and the situation, emphasising 'love not hate', 'peace not war' and better relationships.


Tim Jeffries said...

Inspiring reading my friend. Keep up the great work. I've just caught up on the last few posts and it's clear God is using you in powerful ways. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Max Henshaw said...

You can never seem to stop telling us how glad people are to meet you and how grateful they are that you spent time with them....

John So should give you an award for being so great...pffff

John Christopher said...

Max, I've actually toned down that stuff.

It's not there to make me look good, in fact I am cautious of pride and would rather not include it at all. Besides that I do want to tell the story how it is..

It's there to show you just what a difference a regular (non street community) person's friendship can mean to these people. They are in a world of isolation, violence, with no real meaningful friendships, and being looked down upon leaves them with little hope and little self esteem.

If one regular person's friendship (like I am offering) has such a dramatic impact that they are moved to tears, what would happen if heaps of regular working citizens spent time being their friends as well?

I think you (Max) would get just the same positive response if you spent time being their friend :)

Max Henshaw said...

So what you are saying is that homeless people doesn't have a meaningful relationship unless it's with a "regular person".

Max Henshaw said...

correction to the post above

"doesn't" should be replaced with "don't"

John Christopher said...

Yes, that statement is a bit extreme, but I guess it depends on what you think a 'meaningful' relationship is.

I think a meaningful relationship would involve people growing with a deeper understanding and care for eachother, that can survive eachother's differences without breaking the relationship and/or resorting to violence.

What do you think?

Max Henshaw said...

"I think a meaningful relationship would involve people growing with a deeper understanding and care for each other, that can survive each other's differences without breaking the relationship and/or resorting to violence."

- I'd agree that these facets contribute to a meaningful relationship.