If you’ve been following my Twitter account, you’ll know some of this news, but here’s a summary of the latest developments with the homeless alcoholic who’s been spending every morning on our doorstep for the last couple of months.
Whilst I was away on my conference last week, the Vicar arranged to take Gone to Betel in Nottingham. He decided that they could go by train, as Gone is anxious travelling by car. They agreed that folk from Betel would meet them at the station and take Gone by himself to their centre.
The journey went well, although Gone was still anxious about going to stay with people he didn’t yet know. He is very mistrustful, which I guess is a default position when you live on the street.
Once at the station, they had a while to wait and the Vicar spent the time calming Gone and assuring him of the warm welcome he’d receive once he got to the centre. The men from Betel arrived ‘looking like angels, they radiated so much joy’. Gone seemed happy to go with them, so after a prayer, the Vicar returned to the station and headed home to relieve our babysitters.
That was Tuesday evening. On Thursday morning our doorbell rang early. It was Gone. As you can imagine, the Vicar was very disappointed.
‘There were some men I knew from prison there and I was worried they would beat me up,’ said Gone. ‘I came back by train.’
The Vicar left Gone on the step and went to consider what to do. He rang Betel, who told him that Gone hadn’t actually made it to the centre. He’d been too anxious in the car and got out before they left the station. It is a big thing, to leave your familiar haunts and your regular life, however awful that life is.
I returned that afternoon and together the Vicar and I agreed that we would tell Gone that we couldn’t help him any more, save taking him back to Betel. We’ve been realising how his constant presence has been draining us both. The Vicar’s hardly done any parish visiting since Gone has been on our doorstep, and his predicament has been sapping much of our pastoral energy and our time. Gone has spent a few days thinking about it, and yesterday he had a second telephone interview with Betel and this evening the Vicar and another local pastor are going to drive over with him, right to the front door of the centre.
We still don’t know whether Gone will make it. It’s a massive step for him to change his life in this way, so we are praying that God will give him the courage to do it. I’ll keep you posted.