A Home For Robert
By Cheryl Harrison
Scripture: "Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." (Romans 12:13 NIV)
Many years ago I volunteered as youth director for a church in The Colony, Texas. Once a week I met with kids for Bible study and fellowship. It was at one of these meetings that I first met Robert.
I will never forget his entrance into the room. I watched as he quietly stationed himself in a back corner and waited to see if anyone would notice his existence. A few kids noticed his arrival, but they seemed unsure about greeting him. His large stature and rough appearance created an air of nervousness in the room. Gradually I approached him, introduced myself and drew him into a conversation. Within moments, Robert's story had pierced my heart.
Due to serious drug addictions and a recent release from a juvenile detention center, Robert now found himself homeless. With all options exhausted, he was looking for transportation to a local halfway house. As his story unfolded my heart broke for him. In the short span of seventeen years, Robert had already lived a lifetime.
While I arranged his ride, Robert decided to participate in the Bible study. Later, as he left, I wondered if I would see him again.
He returned the next week and then began coming around more often. If he could catch a ride, he would show up on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. After a while, the kids warmed up and included him in the group. Robert came to church desperately seeking love and support. As time went by, I believe he found what he needed.
A short time later I moved to a different city and a new ministry. I said goodbye and promised to keep in touch. A few months later I received a call from my former pastor. The news was bittersweet. Robert had prayed to receive Jesus the week before Thanksgiving and was preparing to share his testimony with the church after the holidays. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to complete it.
On Thanksgiving Day, cold and alone, Robert huddled in the shadow of the church building. A couple he met while attending services found him there. They invited him to eat dinner with their family, and he accepted.
While final dinner preparations were underway, Robert kept their children occupied in the backyard. He climbed a tall tree to retrieve a toy from its branches and accidentally came in contact with an overhead power line. Robert was killed instantly. Reports said the electrical surge was so strong his tennis shoes were knocked off his feet.
The impact of Robert’s death on the youth group was phenomenal. During the short time he was with them they had grown to love him deeply. Preconceived ideas about homeless people changed and they gained a new understanding of God's grace in their own lives. Most of the kids were from loving Christian homes and had never faced the trials Robert lived through.
Robert remained homeless until the day he died. He may not have lived long enough to share his testimony, but his testimony lives on. After a turbulent life on earth, he stepped into peaceful eternity. Robert isn’t homeless anymore. He is at home with the Lord.
Prayer: "O Lord, give us sensitive hearts for those around us who need encouragement and companionship."
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
As wife, mother, minister, counselor, writer, teacher and student, Cheryl Harrison wears many hats. She resides with her family in Seabrook, Texas, and has been on staff at FBC Seabrook as Youth Minister since August 2001. She is an active leader in Women’s Ministry and has organized and taught the "Completion in Christ" Women’s Conferences sponsored by her home church. Personal experiences drawn from childhood, marriage, parenting, teaching and ministry are the inspiration for her devotional writing. You can write to Cheryl through the Letters page of this magazine.