Last Sunday there were eight of us together for dinner at a family restaurant near St Louis.  I sat across the table from Bill (I’ll call him).  I had a cheeseburger.  Bill, a patty melt.  We both had fries.  And Bill told me his story.

He was a mess before he figured how to get his act together through a combination of approaches that included Narcotics Anonymous.  And volunteering at the Salvation Army corps in his town, doing a good job in its food pantry.  Keeping busy is the main thing for Bill who knows keeping busy makes it hard to get back into trouble.

One day the Lieutenant asked Bill if he attended church.  No.  Come back here this Sunday says the Lieutenant.  Bill did and three years later he’s a regular member of the group that gathers to worship on Sunday at the Salvation Army.

Bill told me that he has two mentors at the Salvation Army.  They have helped him grow as a person, to experience more of the full life human beings were meant for.  All part of getting his act together, to keep out of trouble. 4 13 2015 003

Recently, Bill decided to become a Soldier in The Salvation Army.  There are a lot of promises a Soldier makes including abstaining from the use of “alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.”

Bill talked about the special ability he has.  A gift to help people who are in a really bad way.  Like Rachel (I’ll call her) who lives without an address, who at times has maggots in her scalp, who nobody in town can do a thing with.

But Rachel listens to Bill.

It may have something to do with Bill’s face which has an expression of pleasant accepting neutrality, and his manner, which communicates to people that here is a person who has undergone a very hard time for a long time, who has come through.  Bill says it has something to do with grace and mercy and love which in some way he has been able to reach out and touch.  He says that he was a bad person for many years, but that he knows he’s not anymore.  Rachel listens to Bill.

Bill lives on $700 a month, and he also receives some assistance due to his situation.  Keeping busy keeps Bill of out trouble.  And Rachel listens to him.  And it helps her in small ways to also keep out of trouble.

The road back home after Sunday dinner with Bill

The road back home after Sunday dinner with Bill