Transformative Conversations

A heartfelt conversation can be transformative. That’s just what happened in mid-December at a YMCA in Indianapolis between a volunteer, Cameron, and an older gentleman experiencing homelessness. Read how both individuals, from Cameron’s perspective, were impacted by their time together as their conversation unfolded, the nervousness ceased, and the burdens lightened.

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Upon sitting down, he nervously shared with me his circumstances, trying to give me an understanding of why he desperately needed new shoes and why his feet, clothes, socks, and shoes were so dirty. I looked him in the eyes as he talked and nodded along, even as he nervously looked away. I gave him space to speak and ensured him that I was listening. I wanted him to know that he was important to me, valued, and worthy. I could hear in his voice and see in his body language that he felt embarrassed, but I found him incredibly admirable and brave. I am not sure I could have been so honest with a stranger. Through these actions, I think I gained his trust because when asked permission to wash his feet, he said yes. 

As he took off his shoes, he warned me that he had some cuts on his feet since his shoes and socks were in really bad shape. He shared with me that since he no longer had a bed to sleep on, his legs and feet have been swelling immensely due to poor circulation. The padding in his shoes had been completely worn out leaving sharp plastic exposed and cutting into his swollen feet that barely fit into the shoes. To distract him from worrying about his feet as I washed them, I began asking him about his life. 

He lit up when telling me about his family and his elderly aunt whom he cared for. He shared with me some of his previous work and new jobs he’d been trying to secure. As he spoke, I did my best to disinfect his cuts, some of which were definitely infected and required medical attention. He vocalized many of his fears and worries around applying for these new jobs, and I did my best to encourage him, aiming to speak love and peace over his worried and anxious heart. He was a good man who served those around him and had dreams he wished to pursue. I knew God had big plans for him to use him, he just needed the confidence to believe it himself.

While speaking about where to find resources, we began discussing churches. He shared with me that he hadn’t been in a church or prayed to God for years. Once we had found him the perfect shoes, comfortable, wide, and strong, I asked if he’d like to pray together. He nodded, nervous but excited, and we prayed. I reminded him that God was with him and loved him. I told him that God saw the way he cared for his Aunt and loved his family and those around him. God saw his big heart and had big plans for him, good plans of peace and success. I encouraged him to not be ashamed of his circumstances but to remember that God meets us and uses us exactly where we are. I told him how I admired him, the way he serves others, in the midst of his own suffering and how brave, honest, and bold he was.

As I spoke he blushed but expressed over and over how grateful he was for the encouragement. I could see his confidence grow as I repeated over and over how much I admired him. Before saying goodbye he asked if I knew of any churches he could join, so I introduced him to some of the other women from Indianapolis serving with me who went to a nearby church.

Serving with Samaritan’s Feet was incredibly powerful because not only was it healing the physical needs of individuals, but it was also healing the mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of individuals as well. It was so nice to meet new people and serve the community. My life is incredibly busy, sometimes moving too fast, but volunteering with Samaritan’s Feet helped me to remember to slow down, connect, and build relationships with those around me. I left the distribution with my soul renewed and a greater sense of peace.