Proverbs 31:20
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

There’s a man I see shuffling along in the local shopping strip almost every day. He walks with head bowed and usually has a bunch of books and a bible under his arm.  He rarely looks up at anyone.

Many months ago I felt God leading me to pray for this man and so every time I drove past or walked past I did just that, asking God to bless him.

One day I saw him in a full suit on a very hot summer’s day, sitting on the pavement with his back to the fence of the house he was outside of, and he was reading. I got out of the car to see if he was ok and noticed for the first time his bible and struck up a conversation. I found out his name is Roger (I’d nicknamed him Mr Klump as that is how he walks) and that he went to a local church. He lived not far by but was happy where he was reading and writing and thanked me for my concern.

Over the months I’ve made sure I say hello to him and I see his face light up and he smiles, showing his blackened misshapen teeth.  I feel sorry for him as I’m sure he is lonely and I’ve never seen anyone else with him or talking to him.

Sometimes I just pass him by as he’s hard of hearing and if he doesn’t hear me the second or third time I call out I feel a bit silly as I know others are walking in the street also and can hear me clearly.

Today I walked past him as he sat on a park bench in the new plaza strip between the shops and asked God to bless him.  I continued to walk and began to feel convicted. I turned around but he’d not noticed me and so I continued to walk and pray for him.  Again I asked God to bless him and then I got the response ‘you bless him’.  I kept walking and began to feel guilty. I turned around and Roger still had his head down writing.

So I turned back and walked up to him as he got up to move away and felt I better hurry or I’ll miss my chance.  But he was only moving to a seat in the sun to get more warmth and then sat back down again. He looked up as he heard my voice (I made sure I spoke louder than normal) and he smiled when he saw me and settled back in his seat.

We had a short conversation and I asked how he was, and how were things at church. And then it occurred to me Christmas is not far away and I wonder if he’s going to be alone this year?

I’m not really in the mood for more company this Christmas – we usually invite loners to join us each year but this will be the first year without our beloved daughter Miriam and I don’t know how the family is going to be on that day.  Will I need to ask him to join us at a time when we will be in sorrow?

But I still asked him if he had someone to spend Christmas with and he didn’t hear properly so I asked again, louder this time, wondering what on earth I was doing.

He looked up at me and said he was planning to see his sisters.  I said ‘that’s good’.  Then he thanked me for asking and I told him he was welcome and said goodbye.

I walked away and then suddenly realised he’d thanked me for asking, for taking an interest.  How many do that? Thank you for taking an interest in their lives?  I couldn’t help wonder just how many people take an interest in Roger and continued to pray for him as I moved away towards my car again.

Do you have a Roger in your life and is he waiting for someone to take an interest?

Opening our arms and extending our hands to the needy should also mean turning our hearts and minds to these people, the lonely because they truly are needy – of company, of friendship and of love.  Make sure you extend yourself this Christmas.