I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant
just off the corner of the towns-square. The food and the company were
both especially good that day.
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There,
walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly
goods on his back. He was carrying a well-worn sign that read, "I
will work for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the attention
of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to
focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We
continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished
our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set
out to accomplish them.
I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the
strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call
some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some
purchases at a store and got back in my car.
Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me "Don't go
back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the
square." And so, with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I
turned the square's third corner. I saw him. He was standing on the
steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and
looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on.
The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an
invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's
newest visitor. "Looking for the pastor?" I asked.
"Not really," he replied, "just resting."
"Have you eaten today?"
"Oh, I ate something early this morning."
"Would you like to have l unch with me?"
"Do you have some work I could do for you?"
"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the
city, but I would like to take you to lunch."
"Sure," he replied with a smile. As he began to gather his
things. I asked some surface questions.
"Where you headed?"
"Where you from?"
"Oh, all over; mostly Florida."
"How long you been walking?"
"Fourteen years," came the reply.
I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the
same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly
beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an
eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to
reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending
Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in
life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen
years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on
the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting
up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired,
but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in
those services he saw life more clearly.
He gave his life over to God. "Nothing's been the same since,"
he said, "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did,
some 14 years now."
"Ever think of stopping?" I asked.
"Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God
has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack.
I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit
I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission
and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment
and then I asked "What's it like?"
"To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to
show your sign?"
"Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make
comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a
gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became
humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change
people's concepts of other folks like me."
My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his
things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said,
"Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared
for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you
gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in."
I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you use another
Bible?" I asked.
He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not
too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it
14 times," he said.
"I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church
and see." I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do
well, and he seemed very grateful. "Where you headed from
"Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park
"Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?"
"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that
star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next."
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his
mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours
earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his
"Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked.
"I like to keep messages from folks I meet."
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had
touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a
verse of scripture from Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for
you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm
you. Plans to give you a future and a hope."
"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're
really just strangers, but I love you."
"I know," I said, "I love you, too."
"The Lord! is good."
"Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I
"A long time," he replied.
And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend
and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put
his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, "See you
in the New Jerusalem."
"I'll be there!" was my reply.
He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from
his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When
you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for
"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."
"God bless." And that was the last I saw of him.
Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold
front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my
car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a
pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the
handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his
hands would stay warm that night without them. I remembered his words:
"If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the
world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two
hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry.
"See you in the New Jerusalem," he said.
"Yes, Daniel, I know I will."
If this story touched you, forward it to a friend! "I shall pass
this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness
that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way
"Father, I ask you to bless my friends, relatives and e-mail
buddies reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of your love
and power. Holy spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit at this
very moment. Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy. Where
there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace, In
Jesus' precious Name. Amen."