Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Bridges, Trolls, and People
When I was a kid I remember the story of the 3 Billy Goat's Gruff. In the story the goats had to cross a bridge where a "troll" lived. The troll was mean, scary, and wanted to eat the goats. I learned as a child that trolls and monsters lived under bridges and we never went there in the dark.
As I grew, bridges and overpasses became a place of refuge on a long road run. We would take shelter under the bridge if we were caught in a heavy Midwest/Missouri rain while on a 10 mile run. People would be fishing under the bridges and sometimes we would see people camping or living in that safe spot. Most of the bridges I saw were out in the country but I never saw "trolls or monsters." Just people looking for safety and shelter.
We have had some folks visit Agape in the last couple weeks. One of them filled out the visitor card and put "homeless" for the address. I asked where they stayed and they told me one of the bridges in Portland, and they told me which one. He smiled and I said I will come find you this week.
So I did. I got off the MAX at China Town and began looking under the bridges. I saw many people sleeping and trying to find shelter. I found our visitors who smiled and said, "We almost gave up on you." We went to breakfast and talked about life, God, baptism, pre-marital counseling, and why they like Agape. We hugged, prayed, and shared about families, finding a safe place, and helping others. These are giving people, real people, and people who love God. Some struggle with a worlview of hopelessness, addictions, and despair. Others provide hope and support. They are a community of people in God's image. No monsters, no trolls, just children of our Creator.
They brought friends to Agape and we had 62. There was a lot of excitement and they shared with me that they feel accepted and supported. WOW! God is working.
So Lori and I will visit this week with our boys. I hope our sons hear these stories about bridges, not the ones I heard!