Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
--From the Gospel of Luke
Café Brazil was crowded as always. I smiled at Seema as she pointed us to a four top by the coffee bar. She then came by and took our orders. Don looked at me and asked, “You guys don’t pray before you eat do you?”
“What?” I asked.
“Pray, you don’t pray before you eat do you? I hate that. It gives me the “heebie jeebies.”
“We sure do and since you’re here with us, you gotta join.” I smiled.
“The hell I will.”
True to his word, when the food came and Scott Michael and I went to pray Don got up and went to the bathroom. When he came back, he smiled and said, “Now that is one thing you will never get me to do. Whenever I see Christians praying I can’t help but think that it is all a big show. I mean why do you do that?”
“I want to thank God for the food.” I said.
“Can’t you do that without praying out loud and bowing over your food?” Don asked.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Then please do that when you’re with me, or at least warn me before you pray so I can excuse myself.”
“So Don, tell us about yourself,” Scott Michael said.
“Well, what the hell do you want to know?” Don replied.
“Well, we don’t know that many homosexuals for one,” I said.
“That’s okay, I don’t know many straight guys,” Don said and smiled.
“Well what made you homosexual?” I asked.
“I don’t know if anything made me gay. And please say gay, not homosexual, homosexual sounds—so scientific—I have been gay ever since I could remember. I always wanted to be with men and never women. I was just born that way.”
I thought about reminding Don that no one had ever proven scientifically that there is such thing as a gay gene, but I left it alone.
“You know we actually prayed for a way into the gay community. Kind of cool that you popped into our lives.”
“Why the hell would you pray that?”
“Well, for the past couple months our Bible study has been ministering to a homeless homosexual guy. He lived with me for a bit, but after a stint with drugs and not wanting to leave that life, we had to kick him out.”
“What, you asked a homeless man to live with you?”
“Yeah, well, I wanted to get him on his feet.”
“Why the hell would you do that?” asked Don.
“Cause the Bible tells us to love the poor. They are made in God’s image. If you ever want to go down to the Day Resource Center and feed the homeless, let me know.”
A man with a white tight trimmed beard looked over at us as if he was a part of the conversation. “You know about the DRC?”
“Yeah, I know about the DRC,” I said looking at the man who sounded articulate as if a cultivated business man relaxing late at night at Café Brazil in his jeans and denim shirt.
“You try the First Methodist Church downtown, they have some good chow there.”
“I know that church, it is the one that says, “I am traditional, I am spiritual, I am First Methodist or something like that?”
“That’s the one,” the man smiled. “I can usually get seconds and thirds there if I save my belly up to eat.”
I then realized that this gentleman was homeless. I laughed to myself as I wouldn’t have normally misjudged a homeless guy for a business man, but I guess I hadn’t looked too closely.
He had a red pigment to his pale skin, which Scott Michael pointed out to me later. He had deemed the man an alcoholic and possibly demon possessed. I wasn’t so sure. But I could feel my demeanor change. My patience for his talking waned.
I was sure that Don was watching us interact with this “dreg of society,” I felt like I had to be on my best behavior. I did not want to come across as not authentic—I mean, how could I be telling Don about the love of Jesus Christ and on the other hand spit in the face of a guy that needs Him and more.
“You want to know what’s really going on down there?”
“What do you mean?” I said smiling and wondering if this might be another conspiracy that I was going to get the inside scoop on. It seemed that every homeless guy had the inside scoop on every conspiracy from the mayor to the president. I wondered for a moment if I should get the secret service on standby. The man stirred his coffee and then stuck the spoon in my face to make a point.
“Listen, the Dallas City Council is corrupt. I know people and let me tell you, they are really trying to take advantage of us poor folk. Want to move us right out of town. They’re going to see to it that they get rid of us. We need to unite.”
Don looked on in awkward wonder at what was transpiring before his eyes. I nodded at the man and told him I would get back to him on that, but right now really wasn’t a good time for uniting. He made a face and went back to stirring his coffee.
Scott Michael pulled out his iPhone and put it in Don’s face.
“Don do you ever listen to Christian music?”
“No, why would I? Are they any good?”
“Sure, listen.” Scott Michael pulled out a set of head phones and let Don listen to Chris Tomlin.
Scott Michael gave him another song and Don listened intently.
“It’s okay. Who is that?”
Don nodded, and then asked, “I know this is a long shot and I know there is probably no way you have heard of this band, but my cousin plays in a band and I was wondering if you heard of it,” Don said.
“What’s your cousin’s name?” I asked.
“Jack Parker,” Don said, “I guess he’s my cousin-in-law. He married my cousin, Jana. He plays in a band called—****—what’s the name of it—Chowder Band—Dave Chowder or something like that.”
“David Crowder Band?” Scott Michael and I asked in unison.
“Yeah, you’ve heard of them?” Don asked shocked.
“Don, they’re like one of the most famous bands in the Christian world,” Scott Michael’s voice pitched high.
“Really? I always gave them vintage clothes, cause I couldn’t figure out how they would survive. They always gave me their CDs, but I never really listened to them. I’ll have to see if I can find their CDs.”
Scott Michael and I sat back in our chairs and just stared at Don. After regaining my composure, I decided this would be a good time to find out a little more about Don’s background.