Second-Mile Living

by Lori Arnold — 21 November 2022

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Miss Margaret and her team converged near the homeless encampment, hidden in the shadow of the Dallas-area bridge. Despite the tepid warmth of the sun, the sharp wind swept the biting cold into the flimsy makeshift shelters.

Homeless Care KitsAs founder and director of the Metropolitan Dream Center, Margaret James devoted herself to providing clothes and food to those living in the dark haunts of poverty in a cosmopolitan area enriched by industry, from oil and defense to technology and financial services.

The mission for that day was to distribute Homeless Care Kits, each containing a blanket, scarf, hat, socks, gloves, toiletries, and spiritual materials. The kits were a gift from Cru® Inner City, which provides its Compassionate Products™ to partner ministries. Other Compassionate Products provided by Inner City include Boxes of Love®, PowerPacks® backpacks and Easter Bags.

Scanning the sea of need, Miss Margaret noticed an elderly man struggling to get to the front. Even though he was headed in the same direction, he looked like a salmon fighting against the current. News of the team's arrival spread through the encampment and within minutes a crowd began to grow around them. Scanning the sea of need, Miss Margaret noticed an elderly man struggling to get to the front. Even though he was headed in the same direction as the others, he looked like a salmon fighting against the current.

Miss Margaret discreetly picked up one of the care kits and put it aside to ensure the man's efforts would not be in vain. When Jacob finally came face to face with Miss Margaret she presented him with the kit, neatly rolled up in the blanket. He grabbed her hand.

Bare Feet"Thank you," he said emphatically.

"You are so welcome," she said, glancing down.

Despite the cold, Jacob was barefoot.

"His feet were bursting open, with blood running out of them," Miss Margaret said.

"Sir, where are your shoes?"

"I don't know," he replied, his whole body shaking.

Acutely aware that his plight ran deeper than a lack of warm clothing and footwear, Miss Margaret asked about his spiritual condition.

“His feet were bursting open, with blood running out of them.” "Sir, do you know Jesus?" she asked.

"I heard about Him but I don't really know him," he said.

"Do you want to get to know Jesus?"

"Can we do it now?"

Miss Margaret seized the moment, carefully sharing the plan of salvation. Her words captured his heart, prompting Jacob to receive Christ on the spot, transforming the trampled soil under his bloody feet into holy ground.

Miss MargaretWith the matter of his eternal destination settled, Miss Margaret turned back to his physical needs, arranging to take Jacob to a doctor. Strangers only weeks before, she was there at his juncture of great pain. He had cancer, and it had metastasized. The stunning diagnosis prompted a somber realization by Miss Margaret: Jacob couldn't face his health crisis alone.

"Where's your family?" she asked.

"I don't think I have any family," he responded.

After digging into his background, Miss Margaret discovered Jacob also had Alzheimer's and had been missing from his family for nine years — until she reunited him with a son and three daughters.

Not long after the cancer diagnosis, Miss Margaret visited the hospital where an animated Jacob greeted her warmly.

"There was a chaplain that came in here this morning and asked me if I knew Jesus," he said. "I told him, ‘Yessss! I know the man. Yessss! I know the man. It's the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't care what the doctors say, I'm all right now!"

The disease progressed and before long, one of his daughters called.

"Can you come over because I feel he's transitioning," she said. "I don't think he's gonna be with us long."

Even as cancer sapped his strength, Jacob was exuberant when he spotted his friend.

Her words captured his heart, prompting Jacob to receive Christ on the spot, transforming the trampled soil under his wounded feet into holy ground. "Miss James, I knew you would come," he said.

Miss Margaret offered to pray with Jacob.

"Yes, ma'am."

After she prayed for him, Jacob looked at her.

"Let me pray for you," he said.

Not long after the pair prayed for each other, Jacob passed away, having graduated from seeking refuge under a bridge to securing passage on The Bridge between heaven and earth — thanks to Miss Margaret's compassionate heart and a Homeless Care Kit.

"Because of the tools you (Cru Inner City) provide, this man was saved and because of him, his son accepted Christ, and his (grand)son accepted Christ," she said.

 

Photo of feet by Nina Edmondson/Pixabay


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Lori ArnoldLori Arnold serves as senior writer for Cru's inner-city ministry.

 

A Homeless Care Kit warmed Jacob's body but, more importantly, warmed his soul, bringing great joy during his final months and leaving an eternal legacy for his family. Share Jacob's story on Facebook or other social media platforms by using this link:

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