An Unexpected Silence

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Teen Challenge men were giving testimony at service one Sunday. Walking to the church I passed a man who lives in a homeless encampment. I have tried to speak to him before, to no avail.

Today I tried again. I invited him to go to church and explained who would be sharing. Many of the men had been homeless, and were putting their lives back together. He declined but we did exchange names.

“Could I bring you lunch later?”

“No, that’s okay.”

After church Roy was sitting in his usual place by a tree.

I asked him if I could sit with him and tell him about the testimonies at church.

He nodded.

I told him about two of the men’s stories; one man had been raised in twenty-eight foster homes.

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He was empathetic,

“That is a real sad way to grow up – in all those foster homes.”

“Do you mind if I just sit here with you?”

He shrugged his shoulders. I took that as a ‘yes.’

We sat in silence for about fifteen minutes, both of us leaning back against the tree.

Then it was time to go.

“I am going now. Thank you for letting me sit with you. You are a very peaceful person and you helped me today.”

“Ah, you’re alright.”

Sometimes the most powerful witness is silence. It is a sound you will always remember.

– Mary Nella McLaughlin

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