Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 17, 2013

Homeless in Katy

Yesterday afternoon, Doyle and I met “Pops” aka Roscoe, a 61 year-old Vietnam veteran who lives under the bridge on Mason Road just south of Kingsland Boulevard (behind the Sears store). Roscoe had recently loaned his bicycle to a guy named Terry, a 36 year-old homeless man who stopped by the church looking for help. Terry said that he had stopped by another church but that they didn’t help him. Instead, they told him to go to Kingsland. Terry needed to get to Humble so Doyle called a cab to take him closer to his estranged family.

Roscoe 2
Before getting in to the cab, Terry asked Doyle to take the bicycle back to Pops. So, we tossed the bicycle into the back of his truck and set off in search of Pops. We found him sitting on a filthy mattress under the Mason Road bridge. Pops had just opened a can of beer and greeted us with a handshake. When we told him we had come to deliver his bicycle, he was really happy and thanked us for “doing the Christian thing.”

We spent the next hour talking with Pops and listening to his stories, each of which gave us a little more insight into his life. Pops has been living under the bridge for four-years but spends the winter under another bridge that is more sheltered. He talked about a near-death experience in Vietnam in which he had a vision of Jesus. With tears in his eyes he said that he had begged Jesus to not let him return to earth. Jesus, Roscoe said, told him to return and assured him that he would find his purpose.

Coming home from Vietnam was not easy for Pops. He worked odd jobs but eventually settled into his life of homelessness. As for his purpose, Pops said that he has had many opportunities to talk with teenage kids that have found their way under the bridge. “I always tell them to stop stealing and doing dumb stuff and to get back in school or they might end up living a hard life, like me,” he said. Pops is homeless but at peace with what he believes to be his purpose. He sees his life as a warning to others.

Roscoe 5
I am really glad that we met Pops. Now that we know where he lives, we promised that we will visit him again, especially when the weather turns cold. Those of you who live in Katy may have seen Pops. He generally begs for help on the corner of Kingsland and Mason. He showed us his cardboard sign. Although he is homeless in Katy, he is able to survive only because of the kindness of others. So, the next time you see somebody holding a cardboard sign, don’t turn away. Your kindness will help them, beer notwithstanding, to make it through another day of tough challenges and uncertainties.


Responses

  1. Oh my! Pastor Omar… you wrote this so beautifully! The homeless are people too and God surely provides through our generous giving. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks, Sterling. You are right in writing that the homeless are people, too — human beings made in God’s image and worthy of our respect.

  2. Hey Omar-do you think he keeps up with clothes? a neighbor just donated a box of clothes that are too big for my husband and this guy looks like his size. I could get him a plastic lidded container if he is kind of set up to retain things. I know I have some blankets too!

    • Hi Dayna,

      I think Pops is ok in regard to clothes. However, when I saw how filthy and torn his mattress was, I thought that a blanket might be good. When I see him again I can ask him about the clothes. Let me know if you want me to get a blanket to him. Just call my office at the church.

      Thanks,
      Omar~

  3. We actually have premade bags of supplies that we give to homeless people in Katy. We have them at our church (COTHA.org) and we all keep them in our cars. It also includes a list of resources they can use, like the food pantry location, etc.

    • That is a really good and practical way to help. Thanks for sharing the idea, Kami.

  4. I’m going to go out on a limb here… listen, I was homeless for about one day. I found a nice place to live, got back on my feet as they say, how? Because I am not a criminal, not a disagreeable person, nor do I steal, nor have horrible habits- many of the “heart of gold” homeless you meet on the street are either A) pedophiles (why they can’t find work- being on sex offenders list) B) alcohol/drug addicts who refuse to dry up C) the most miserable, thankless, entitled greedy persons you cannot imagine in your mind, not being accustomed to meeting such types in person. The tv shows and movies cannot do it justice to describe these people. There is a REASON why these people are homeless, but they manage to finagle unsuspecting non-homeless with phony reasons why they are actually perpetually homeless: “I have a purpose..” “I like to live free” and other such nonsense. I’d like to see this wonderful person’s arrest record that you profile here, I have reason to believe- and also suspect, that he has a very, very bad record in regard to children and/or sex crimes. Please do not paint the homeless as these angelic beings beyond reproach.

    • As someone who has ministered to and served the homeless both at home and abroad for many years, I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of and conclusions about the homeless. Without question, some homeless people do have criminal records, have various addictions, and are greedy and thankless. However, your description also fits many people I know who live in splendid homes. What you describe are not problems that are endemic to the homeless.

      I have met far too many homeless people who suffered difficult reversals of fortune that resulted in the loss of everything they owned. I spoke with a married couple living under a bridge near Buffalo Bayou who had both lost their jobs and could not quite make enough to even rent a hotel room. But they were clinging to each other and to their faith while trying to find employment, something that is hard to do when you don’t have a home.

      I met a veteran without family who was beaten and robbed and ended up on the streets. The bank would not reissue him a debit card because he had no address. Thankfully Houston Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team intervened and was able to get him access to his veteran’s benefits and to get him into affordable housing.

      I could write about many others. As for the homeless being “the most miserable, thankless, greedy persons,” I have actually found a majority of the homeless I have known over the years to be among the most grateful and willing to share with others worse off than them on the streets. I have witnessed some moving acts of kindness among the homeless.

      There is absolutely nothing in what I wrote that would suggest I am trying to paint the homeless as “angelic beings beyond reproach.” But I never want to lose sight of the fact that the homeless are human beings created in God’s image, regardless of how they might have ended up on the streets. Years ago I determined to err on the side of compassion and kindness.

      I have also served the homeless and destitute in Kolkata. Mother Teresa offered some of the best advice I have ever heard in regard to the homeless. She instructed her sisters to go into the alleys and narrow and dark places to look for Jesus. “You will find him, “ Mother Teresa said, “in the distressing disguise of the poor. And when you find him, do for him what Jesus would do.”

      Ultimately, our treatment of the least of these reveals more about our heart and character than perhaps anything else. The Gospel of Matthew teaches that at the judgment, Jesus will hold us accountable for how we treated the least of these. To those who despised and rejected them He will say, “Depart from Me … for I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me” (Matt. 25:41-43).

      As for me, I will continue to take advantage of every opportunity to engage the homeless in conversation, to listen to their stories, to provide assistance, and to affirm their worth.

  5. Wow! In all the time I’ve spent among the homeless I am still shocked by comments such as the one above from freetoairphoenix. Yes, you are going way out on a limb that seems very cynical and dark and I am grateful I am not out there with you. I’ve read this wonderful blog for three or four years now and I would say yours are the only negative and destructive words I can remember reading here.

    You are correct freetoairphoenix, there are reasons why anyone becomes homeless. Sometimes those reasons are the homeless persons fault and sometimes they are circumstances beyond their control. I know homeless people that spend weeks at a time drunk out of their minds and I know homeless people who spend most of their time reaching out to and helping others.

    I know a man here in Boise, Idaho who has been homeless for years and struggles in a brutal battle with alcoholism and depression. In trying to help him he frustrated me because he would do fine for a while and then turn to drinking again and I selfishly felt that my efforts were going to waste. Then one day he sat and told my wife and I some of his history.

    At an earlier time in his life this man had a wife, a daughter, a nice house, and a good job as a mechanic. Him and his wife split up but he still had a good relationship with his daughter until one day she went missing. He eventually went looking for her and found her body dumped in a roadside ditch. She had been kidnapped, raped, and then murdered by two men – and he was the one that found his daughters body. How does a man deal with something like that? He could not deal with it. For him it was all over, he gave up and now he’s on the street. He now has cancer and goes into surgery tomorrow to have a kidney removed.

    My wife just came across a video on YouTube in which some kids snuck up to a homeless man while he was sleeping, blew an airhorn in his face and then laughed at him for being so startled. The man in the video is the man I mention above. I’m pretty sure those kids just looked at him as another “miserable, thankless, entitled greedy person” in order to justify their actions to themselves.

    Freetoairphoenix, the generalities that you make about the homeless by categorizing them in such derogatory ways is hard to even address because it’s just ignorant. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the truth of your position here.

    From the perspective of Christ, it would not even matter if ninety nine percent of all homeless people were just running a scam – which is not the case at all. But if it was the case, we still as Christians must give all we can in as Christlike a way as possible.

    C.S. Lewis sums it up well, “It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been ‘had for a sucker’ by any number of imposters; but it would be a torment to know that one had refused even one person in need.”

    • Thanks for your insight and good words, Chad. And thanks also for your tireless work among the homeless in Boise. You and your team are bringing healing and hope to so many people who are hurting and in desperate need. God bless you all.

  6. I was homeless a few times and my last was in Katy and I just want to thank Cory (homeless guy who helped me out with wanting nothing in return) and Marshall. If you read this, its.Justin and thank you very much.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 480 other followers