Seven days a week, Joy Junction’s Lifeline of Hope travels the streets of Albuquerque.
|Joy Junction’s Jeremy Reynalds helps a Lifeline client.|
The Lifeline is laden with hot soup and chili, sack lunches, coffee, a variety of cold beverages, Bibles and a lot of love. It stops at a variety of places that include homeless hot spots, motels frequented by the homeless, economically challenged areas and the city’s West Mesa.
Youngsters come out to greet us, occasionally clapping upon our arrival. They excitedly tell us about their day at school, and how many sack lunches they need. Parents routinely ask us if we have any ideas how they can pay the next day’s motel rent. We many times hear the refrain, “We haven’t had anything to eat today. You guys are a lifesaver.”
While on the Lifeline we stop at areas where there are used condoms, syringes and broken bottles of alcohol littering the ground. It’s a side of Albuquerque that doesn’t get a lot of (positive) attention. To some people, the individuals we feed are a sore and a blight upon the Duke City, but to us they are still precious souls in desperate need of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. Most of the people we serve from the Lifeline of Hope are craving just that-hope. They don’t need to be reminded what a life their mess is in. Most are very well aware of that already-although some are too intoxicated to know. We do what we can for them anyway.
Some encounters come to mind. We recently met an intoxicated man while parked in what some would consider as a dangerous part of Albuquerque. Alan (not his real name) told us immediately how hungry he was, so we gave him some soup, a sack lunch and some coffee. He then identified himself as a Native American veteran who was stranded in Albuquerque and asked us if we could help him.
We told Alan that the agencies with which we worked that might give him a bus ticket back home were closed until Monday, but he was welcome to stay at Joy Junction until then. He delightedly accepted, so I called the shelter to send a van for Alan to take him back to the safety and security of Joy Junction. Hopefully, I thought, he could rest, eat and be safe until Monday. We told Alan where to stay until the van arrived, and he promised he would. However, although the van made it to that spot a short while later, Alan wasn’t there.
I don’t know whether we will ever see Alan again. I’ve been wondering today what emotional and perhaps physical nightmares Alan endured to bring him to the spot where we met him. There’s no happy ending (yet) to this story, but I pray the Lord will use the food and encouragement we provided to keep Alan alive until he is in a place where he can get the help he so desperately needs.
Then there was the very intoxicated Ricky (not his real name) whom we met downtown with a few other more sober people, a few hours later. As I got out of the van, he approached me and said through very slurred speech, “It’s Doctor Reynalds. Don’t you recognize me?”
I have to confess I didn’t, but Ricky was sure he knew me. It was getting late, and Ricky was very anxious to hug me. I have to admit I was a little nervous, so I said a quick prayer for protection. We fed him and the others gathered around. As they dispersed, Ricky grabbed my hand and said, “Don’t you want to bless me as I bless you?” He then said, very accurately in his drunken stupor, a few verses of Scripture.
I looked at him and said, “Ricky, the Lord wants to bless you. He loves you and so do we.” Ricky thanked me and staggered off. We headed back to Joy Junction.
I started thinking about and praying for Ricky. I wondered what brought him to his day-after-Thanksgiving plight staggering drunkenly around the streets of downtown Albuquerque. His knowledge of Scripture and things Christian was quite amazing. However, Ricky’s “life”-more of a living death-was definitely not the plan the Lord had in mind for him.
Again, like so many other stories of folk we have helped on the Lifeline, this is a story without (at least yet) a happy ending. The ministry of the Lifeline is all about building a relationship of trust so when the time is right, these precious souls will remember the time (s) that Joy Junction’s Lifeline came to them and gave some food and a word of hope.
There are so many “Alan’s”and “Ricky’s” wandering the streets of Albuquerque. Before judging them, I hope you will remember that they are creations of our Heavenly Father. He loves them so much, and would like nothing more than to see them redeemed and serving Him.
So what is the Lifeline’s primary mission? It’s a ministry of hope. One of our Lifeline staff drivers expressed that beautifully in a poem she wrote recently which she gave me permission to share.
The Lifeline of Hope
You ask “What is the Lifeline of Hope?”
A big green and silver truck full of love and hope
We travel from west to east
Bringing food that may not quite be a feast.
The smiles on the faces of young and old alike
Some walk some in cars and some ride a bike
The love we bring to the people
Does not compare to the love we get from the people.
They are there no matter what the weather
Waiting to see if we will also be there in bad weather
Bringing cold food in the summer
And real hot food in the winter to keep them warmer.
They tell you their life story when they realize they can trust you.
You can relate and tell them they are just like you.
You can see the light of hope in their eyes;
I go home many a night with tears in my eyes
Afraid they will lose hope.
The stresses are hard enough to cope.
You share what God has done for you;
You tell them God can do this for you
The Lifeline of Hope brings food for the hungry
And those who bring the truck try to fill the souls that are hungry
We laugh and cry with the people
We even pray for the people.
The Lifeline of Hope
Fills my life with hope
That maybe just one will get off the streets
Maybe someday they too can return
Bringing the Lifeline of Hope
Sharing with others that there IS hope.