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OPINION | MARK PETERSON: I met a homeless guy who changed my life

by Mark Peterson Special to The Commercial | December 9, 2022 at 2:42 a.m.


I never knew any homeless people in the small town in which I was raised. There were poor people, but they all had some kind of home, however small or decrepit. But one day I met a homeless guy, and as I got to know him, he changed my life, and how I look at homeless people today.

Every person we meet has a story, and his story is truly extraordinary. His life is a testimony to how the power of God can work through one human life, even when all the cards seemed to be stacked against him. His life expressed many paradoxes.

Conceived out of wedlock and raised in a backwater small town, he never had any formal education, yet seemed very articulate and well spoken.

Although he was poor and never seemed to own anything more than the clothes on his back, he behaved as if he was the richest man in the world. Women were attracted to him, although he did not marry. He never had any kids, although he loved children, and they loved him. He did have a bunch of guys that he hung around with.

Being around him, I felt more alive than I have ever felt before, because he had an extraordinary presence, and I felt like I was somehow experiencing eternity. Even though I just met him, he seemed to know me at the very depths of my soul. He brought a peace and joy to those around him that was just profound, and attracted people from far and wide.

There were even reports of his feeding thousands of people, and performing healings and deliverance from demonic spirits.

He radiated an absolute strength underneath the surface, and showed tremendous love and compassion to those around him. He also castigated the religious leaders of the day for their hypocrisy, corruption, and enslavement of the people with their false religious traditions.

Other than helping his stepfather, he never held a real job. Then in his early 30s, his life finally began to gel. When the wine was running low at a wedding feast in Cana, his mother persuaded him to intervene. That's when Jesus – you guessed it – performed His first miracle.

He turned water into wine, launching His three-year career on earth that culminated in his crucifixion and resurrection. And all who received Him as savior and Lord became set free from the bondage of sin and the power of death, our ultimate enemies. We can now encounter Jesus through His Word, which will delight us, terrify us, instruct us, and shape us.

Jesus, the Son of God, changed history forever (that's why it is called HISTORY – HIS STORY). So the next time you meet a homeless person, just remember that he (or she) has a story. Ask him about his story, and you can tell him yours, and His Story. You might change his life, and he might change yours.

To God be the Glory.

Mark Peterson is a retired educator who's worked with people in Southeast Arkansas. He's a member of the vestry at First Lutheran Church at Eighth and Rock streets at Little Rock. The community is invited to join them for worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Details: FirstLutheranLR.com.

Editor's note: Pastors, ministers or other writers interested in writing for this section may submit articles for consideration to shope@pbcommercial.com. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry. Writers should have a connection to Southeast Arkansas.


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