Thursday Night in Chinatown

I thought about it over and over, whether if I should do this or not.
The idea came to me last Thursday, as I sat in reflected on what happened. I thought maybe this would be a bad idea, as if I’m trying to exploit the people, or maybe my motives were not genuine.
But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me, and thought that this might actually help the one or two who read the blog.. or the few that accidentally stumble upon it.

As I was walking around the streets tonight, I didn’t even know how to bring it up in the conversation. Actually, I still don’t know how to start a conversation.
It was funny. Tonight, this big guy called me over and without ever looking at me directly, whispers “Whatever you want. I got it. Just tell me what you want.” I told him I was perfectly fine and didn’t need anything. He told me that I must be looking for something if I’m just wandering around the street. I insisted that I didn’t need anything from him. He said he’ll be waiting for me if I changed my mind. I walked away, and he was sort of following me. I turned a corner, and another corner, and we ran into each other again. He said, “See. I told you I’m here for you. Now what you want? I gots it.” I replied, again, that I didn’t want anything from him. He then looked at me and said, “Then don’t run into me again or else.”
Got it. Understood. See ya. So I made sure I avoided this big guy for the rest of the night.

I came across Reid again. And his friend (who was sleeping last time), Tom. I asked them if they wanted anything to drink. They said beer. (Now before you go and complain or rebuke me for actually going and buying them a beer, tough. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. But I wanted them to be real with me and I wanted to be real with them. This allowed them to see me as a person more than some annoying Christian guy. If you disagree, I’m sorry. But I had no qualms in doing what I did.)

We talked about all sorts of things, how much they get from pan handling, where they get the cigarettes, how they got here, stories of previous lives, how they eat, what they need from churches who come around, police officers. Tom tried to teach me Korean.
At one point, Reid asked me, What church do you represent when you come here? I replied, no church at all. I’m just here. I couldn’t think of a better answer.

In the mean time, I had no idea how to bring out about what I wanted to do.
I didn’t know if they’d be offended or scared.
But I figured that was my goal for the night, and I can’t walk away without even asking.
So I looked at Reid and Tom and asked them if I could take their picture
I explained to them that I was going to post this up on my blog and also show the kids at my church. I wanted to raise awareness that the people on the streets are actually people. And to actually have someone “concrete” to pray for, instead of the generic “God, bless the homeless,” or such, prayer.
That these people have faces, problems, and are just like us.

For you who read this, I want you to know that I’m not doing this to exploit them or what not, but I want you to actually pray for these guys and not only that, for you to know that there are good and loving people just like Tom and Reid in your community.
I want everyone to start looking into people rather than at people.


Reid is the one on the left and Tom is the one on the right in his GQ pose.

They were ribbing each other all conversation long.
But here was the most coolest part (yes, I said ‘most coolest’): these guys share with one another. Whatever they make in pan handling, they share with one another. The most touching part was that Tom had a 40 in his backpack. And every time he took a sip from it, he’d hand it to Reid. And Reid had the shakes, a little, and Tom would make sure that Reid had the bottle fully in his hand before Tom let go.

So, I urge you. Go out and talk to some of the people in your community. You’d be surprised of how much they can teach you.

I pray that I would be able to get more pictures of people. I think that’ll be a nice conversation starter.
“Hey, can I take your picture?” (I’ve been attempting to save up for a camera, but so far no good. If anyone out there has an inkling to donate a camera with which I can take decent pictures, it’ll be greatly appreciated. [Hey… can’t blame a guy for trying… *enter sheepish laugh*])
“What for?”
And then I can explain what I’m doing and hopefully open up a dialogue… (although, that’s how I wanted to start my conversation off today, but was too nervous to. How do you think the drug dealer would’ve replied if I asked to take his picture?)

Go and share a story with someone and start loving and looking into people.

3 thoughts on “Thursday Night in Chinatown

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