One scorching summer day, I was sitting at a stoplight when a man approached my car. He was holding a sign that read, “Homeless, hungry. Please help.” I let him pass by, but I kept watching him in my rearview mirror.

I noticed that every few steps, he would fall asleep where he was standing. His eyes would close, and he’d sway back and forth. Then, he would slump headfirst toward the ground until something would startle him awake and he’d move on.

His feet were near the curb, and I worried he might slip and fall into oncoming traffic. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to help. What should I do, Lord?

Experience told me this man wasn’t tired from the wear and tear of homelessness in the hot Arizona sun. As I observed him from my air-conditioned car, I remembered the decades I had spent as a junkie strung out on heroin, when the streets had been my home.

I lived under bridges and in abandoned houses, and I hustled for money in neighborhoods known for drugs and prostitution. I was in the grips of my addiction, and it showed. But there at that traffic light, God didn’t let me linger on my traumatic past; He used a different memory to speak to my heart.

I remember standing at a crosswalk, one day when a woman called out from her car, “Good morning, beautiful. Are you hungry?” She didn’t wait for me to answer. She looked me in the eyes through her open window and said, “Jesus loves you, sweetheart.” She flashed a huge smile, handed me a warm breakfast sandwich and a couple of dollars, then drove away. I never saw her again.

Whoever she was, she had looked past my skimpy outfit and the track marks on my arms to let me know, in a tangible way, that God loves me. Remembering her stirred my heart and encouraged me to do the same for this man.

I didn’t have any food, but I did have a few dollars and some bottles of water in the car. That was enough—I’d been given the opportunity to let this man know that God loves him, and I was ready. I rolled down my window and called out to him.

At the sound of my voice, he stood up straight and rushed to my car. He gave me the biggest smile as I handed him the money and the water.

“How’d you know I was thirsty?” he asked.

I smiled and answered, “I didn’t, but God did, and He loves you.”

The light turned green, and the man stepped away. Tears streamed down my face as I thanked the Lord for this encounter. Through that gentleman, God had reminded me that He can use anyone who’s willing to reach His lost and hurting children. He does it through one compassionate act at a time.

I love how Jesus handled people begging along the roadside (Mark 10:46–52). He didn’t waste time sizing them up or making assumptions about how they got there. Instead, He engaged with them in conversation and let them know that He saw them. He met their needs and loved them. (Read the Gospel accounts to see Jesus’s compassionate interactions with people of all backgrounds.)

There is no shortage of opportunities to implement what Jesus taught us. Every day, in every city and on every street, we encounter suffering people. But homelessness and drug addiction are often symptoms of a greater, spiritual problem.

It doesn’t matter who a person is or what they’ve done. It’s none of our business whether the sign they hold is true, how beaten down they look, or whether they are on drugs. Our only business is to show them the love of God without judgment.

After all, as Romans 10:14 asks, “How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (NLT).

May we always be prepared to give a reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15).


CHRISTINA KIMBREL serves as VL’s production manager. Once incarcerated and bound to her addiction, she now ministers hope to those held captive by their circumstances while sharing the message of healing she’s found in Jesus.