As we arrived at the magnolia tree in Golden Gate park where we serve pancakes every Monday morning, a lanky frame climbed through the bushes and made his way over to us. His name was Koala, and he couldn’t have been more than 20 years old.
We laughed and chatted about life for a while, and then he mentioned wanting to leave San Francisco. I mentioned some travel options, and he seemed seriously interested. He then connected with my teammate Alison, who invited him over to our house for lunch.
Over lunch Alison found out that Koala was young, and she remembered a program that gives runaway kids a bus ticket home - one time, one chance. She called, and they had a slot open for the 4:00 bus that same day!
It turns out Koala was also wrestling with faith in Jesus and had a bunch of questions. As I washed dishes, two of my other teammates listened and shared with him, and then they had the opportunity to pray with him.
We quickly created a cookie bag for the bus trip he had ahead of him, blessed him, and dropped him off at Greyhound. And that was it.
But the next day he sent us this message:
“Hey I made it without a problem. Thank you guys for what you did and everything. It’s been a long strange trip and you guys lifted a big weight off my shoulders and I am forever thankful. I wouldn’t have made it without you guys and the loving hands of God. Thank you and keep it up you guys. What you do is awesome. By the way- those cookies were dank* :)" (*dank is a street term for awesome)
We meet runaway kids like Koala in the park all the time. They can be hard to reach, and it often takes time to earn their trust. But one afternoon is all it takes to remind them that there is a God who loves them, and that there is hope for tomorrow!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Claire Howard leads CRM’s InnerCHANGE team in San Francisco known as the Outer Circle. Her team serves homeless travelers and hippies in Golden Gate Park.