On a Saturday, July 2, 2005, approximately 1.30AM, a local homeless man named Carlos Holguin died. There’s been much speculation how he died. Initial reports stated that he was badly injured as he was ‘burned in an accident while grilling with propane.’ Many of the local homeless community who knew and love Carlos thought otherwise believing there was a ‘hate crime’ involved. In fact, they are certain of it. The case is now closed with his death attributed to an accident. A week after Carlos’ death, we held a memorial service at our church for him. We were surprised how many people from the homeless community had gathered to pray and honor his life.
One conversation I had was with a man who was not homeless and he did not know Carlos at all. When I asked him, “Why are you here?”, he replied with this answer (paraphrase):
“Reverend, I’m here because I needed to be here. You see, I was once homeless many years ago and I remember how it used to be. Being alone. And no, I don’t know this man, Carlos, but I read the article about his death and felt I needed to be here to somehow let him know that his life mattered.”
Honestly, I didn’t know Carlos very well or “Los” as many in the homeless community called this dude. We chatted a few times but one thing I knew about “Los” was that he was nearly always happy. He was always smiling and encouraging people. He called me “Rev” and shouted it at the top of his longs whenever he saw me. He was always nearly drunk as well and could tell he was drinking away some of his pain.
There are times I’ll sit in my church office and wonder if what we’re doing as a church means anything at all. We are so far from being the church we ought to be but nevertheless, I find strength in knowing that in some way or another, we are communicating and demonstrating to ourselves and others that PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD and IF PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD, THEY OUGHT TO MATTER TO THE CHURCH. PEOPLE OUGHT TO MATTER TO QUEST…
As you soak in the words of GOSPEL this week that YOUR lives matter to Christ, may you be encouraged and convicted to speak those words of TRUTH to others in your lives – both friends and strangers.