June 7th was the most overwhelming day since I began this fellowship program. Everything was normal and expected until the end of my lunch break. I usually eat and then walk around the streets of San Francisco to check out the city and just see who I run into. Today, I just decided to walk around first before I ate because I was not hungry. I saw this man talking on a microphone very loudly and it made me curious why he was talking so loud. I crossed the sidewalk and I noticed that he was holding a Bible and I immediately figured that he was preaching. I tried to listen but it was hard for me to understand because he had a very heavy accent. After walking a little more, I decided to eat lunch. After lunch, I went to hang out at a street that I usually go to before going back to GAAP. These two African Americans gave me an eye contact and asked if I wanted some rice. I told them I was “good.” I usually meet a lot of people dealing drugs on this street. They usually ask me why I’m standing there and I tell them that I’m here for the summer doing an internship at GAAP. Some of them offer what they sell and then walk around swiftly looking for cops. They usually ask me where I am from and whether I am Ethiopian. We usually talk for a little bit, but not for long because they don’t really stand for long.
After people watching, I usually go to sit down and reflect on my day or week. While I was going to the place where I usually sit, I saw this guy. I began talking to him and soon enough I figured that he was half Ethiopian and half Eritrean. He speaks English, Tigrinya, and Amharic. I asked him where he lived when he was in Eritrea and he said “Edaga Hamus”, which is a place that I am familiar with. I told him where I grew up and I just felt like he was my brother or something. We continued talking and he told me that he had been in America for fifteen years and his parents are in Ethiopia. I asked him where he lives and who he lives with in San Francisco and he said, “I’m homeless.” Immediately, I began to feel sad and then he said, “It was nice to meet you, I have to go.” I left and while I was walking I began to feel an overwhelming sadness and I did not know how to control it or how to react to it. I sat down and began reflecting on what just happened. I knew that I wanted to do something but did not know what or how to do it. I felt like he was part of me, my brother. He reminded me of my friends from back home in Eritrea. I know that I would do anything to keep them off the streets and would help them in any way I can if I found out that they were struggling in this journey called life. I connected with him so fast and I just knew that I had to do something. I realized that I only had a few minutes before my lunch was over, so I began to walk hoping to see Solomon again. Luckily, I was able to find him sitting down along with other homeless people.
I sat down right next to him and told him, “Solomon, I want to help you out. Can I give you my cell phone number, so that you can call me if you need anything?” He said yeah and I gave him my cell phone number and he placed it in his wallet. He was so thankful. I asked him if he is going to be around here and I that I am looking forward to see him again. He told me that he would be around. If I accomplish any thing meaningful this summer during this internship, it is helping Solomon in any way I can so that he is not homeless anymore. I am looking forward to see him everyday during my lunch break. I actually want to take him out to eat next time, hopefully tomorrow. I would rather spend time with these homeless people than any other famous person(s) or star(s). These homeless people are my stars and I long to get to know them and build friendships. The stars, actors, and famous people already have fans that love them, but these people are actually the ones who really need our love and care.
The whole law of God can be summed up into two commandments, which are to love God and your neighbor as yourself. An expert in the Jewish law asked Jesus who his neighbor is and Jesus answered him in the following parable.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. ’“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? ”The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.’” Luke 10:25-37
Christianity is about loving your neighbors that are hurting and suffering from obstacles in life. It is about caring for those that are ignored, hated, used, and mistreated. I hope to live the life of the Good Samaritan from this day on.