He reminded me of my Dad. He is a Navy veteran, like my Dad. Tom is a gentle, polite, well-spoken man who is proud of his service to his country and his skills, who prizes his independence and privacy. Yet Tom can get surprisingly upset about what seem to be minor things. He steadfastly refused for almost a decade of engagement with the Lamb Center to apply to the VA for the benefits he had earned.
I first met him when I was a church volunteer in the hypothermia shelter program. I remember him seated at the piano with the Vicar’s middle-school daughter, playing a duet and encouraging her to practice. I also remember him picking up his bedroll and leaving in a huff over a disagreement about “his” spot. I was grieved when I first learned that he was probably eligible for VA benefits, even housing, but he refused to sign anything.
So it was with great joy that a few months ago, I sat at my desk and held his hand and encouraged him while he nervously signed the paperwork for his VA housing voucher. We were his cheerleaders through the months-long process of finding an apartment that accepted the voucher, being approved, and finally moving in.
This is the slow work of God that we participate in here at the Lamb Center. Coming alongside people whose illness or brokenness drives them away from the help they need, and quietly walking beside them through the process, holding hands as needed. In this case, none of us can pinpoint a breakthrough moment; we give thanks to God for moving unseen in his life and bringing him into a life of dignity and peace.