“You Served Me Anyway”

We received a letter today from M.C., a Ladle guest who went to prison a few months ago. Before that, while he was in the downtown jail, we corresponded with him regularly and visited him once. As with so many of our Ladle guests, we got to know him well over time. He is a complex man, a mixture of high intelligence and energy, creativity, addictive tendencies, mental health struggles, concern for the vulnerable, and genuine desire for God.

He wrote to tell us that he has been released from prison early, and is working on his housing and employment. He also described to us the story of his conversion to Christ and his testimony of God’s presence in his life. At the end of the letter, he shared with us what the Ladle meant to him when he was homeless:

“When I could not look anyone in the eye…I was welcome at the Ladle Fellowship. Two winters ago when it rained on and off for 2+ weeks, you guys were there with warm soup and a blanket. When I felt like a failure and I wasn’t doing all I could to help myself…you served me anyway. Then you did a series on ‘Epic Failures of the Bible,’ and I laughed for the first time in a while, and I figured I would give it another try.”

That’s exactly what the Ladle is all about: being there for people even if they’re at their lowest point, even if they’re treating themselves poorly, even if they believe they’re too far gone for grace. We are driven by the gospel, and the gospel of Jesus is exactly for people like M.C. Thank God for that.

“I feel like they’ll strap me down”

That’s what one of our guests said to me on Sunday when talking about why he doesn’t want to go to a traditional clinic for medical care. He’s usually referred to only with nicknames, although over the past six months he has shared his real name with a couple of us. As a young black man growing up in the South in the 1960s, he experienced a lot of abuse from “the system.” In high school, a gym teacher racially insulted him and he grabbed the man’s lanyard in defiance. That landed him in prison, since the judge counted it as “assault with a deadly weapon.” It’s not surprising that he distrusts institutions.

He loves the Ladle though. We’ve gotten to know him well. He makes money by washing and detailing cars, and he’s gradually growing his client base. We think he’s really got the potential to turn it into a legitimized business someday.

By giving him an opportunity to speak with doctors in a setting where he already feels comfortable and cared for, with people he already trusts, we’re able to give him access to medical care that he might not otherwise receive. That’s the whole point of Street Corner Care. He summed it up well when he said, “I don’t like going to clinics. But I like your doctors. You guys are the only doctors I’ll talk to.”