By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
It had been a good day, but a long one. Very similar in some ways to one I wrote about before in early July 2015.
Just like most days, while good, I nonetheless really wanted to get home, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of home along with my wife Elma.
Making our way home, though, usually involves a stop off on the way at Joy Junction. Most of my work these days is away from our South Valley facility. We’re in the community daily, heightening awareness of the plight faced by the homeless, and letting people know what they can do to make an impact on the issue by partnering with Joy Junction.
As we gear up to launch into the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, where in addition to serving a number of holiday meals life for us in the community gets even busier. People’s hearts are more than ever attracted to the plight of the homeless and hungry during the holiday season, and we want to let them know how they can help and make a difference.
While that’s a very necessary part of the life of a CEO, the visit to Joy Junction is always good. After all, it’s the reason why along with my assistant and wife I spend days crisscrossing the streets of Albuquerque going from one meeting to another.
The time we spend at the shelter includes some joking and light hearted banter with the staff, and on other occasions a little interaction with our guests. As the months have gone by, they have come to increasingly love Elma.
However, a slight detour was about to unfold. A need to visit a Downtown ATM took us on a slightly different route to the shelter than the one we usually follow. It was the beginning, we both believe, of another divine appointment.
Driving along, I was attracted to a small, well-manicured lawn outside a church. I’d passed it several times before, but this time was different. On the lawn lay a woman dressed in (as well as other clothes) a hospital gown. A few feet from her was a pineapple and a couple of backpacks.
I have to admit that initially I really didn’t want to stop, and was tempted to call the non-emergency line for the police, and have them check on her. However, the police are busy and we were right there.
It’s also a “calling,” I believe, that ultimately compelled us to check on the woman. While Joy Junction is (technically) a job, it is so much more than that. It is a way of life. Bringing God’s love to the hurting, homeless and hungry energizes even the most tired of bodies.
I grabbed a fast food gift card and walked slowly over to the woman, ensuring I stayed a few feet away from her in case she was sleeping and scared when she woke up. However, she was awake. I told her who I was and gave her the card. She accepted it appreciatively.
She told me a little bit of her story. She said she had recently been released from an area hospital, but had cracked ribs. While talking, she was writhing in pain.
The woman added that her friend had just walked a few hundred yards to a mission close by to see if he could get a blanket. She was unable to get pain medication due to not having any identification.
By this time, Elma had gotten out of the car and joined me on the grass. Wanting to relax her feet a little, Elma had taken off her shoes. Stepping on the grass, she said it was cold. I think more so than she expected. Laying there would definitely have been rather uncomfortable.
We asked the woman if she had heard of Joy Junction. She said she had, so I asked her if she would like a place to stay for the night. She said she would, so we called the office for a van to come and pick her up.
While waiting for the driver, the woman’s friend came back (without a blanket). He agreed to go with her to Joy Junction, so he could watch over her for the night and call 911 to see if medical attention was needed.
Our driver came and took the two of them to Joy Junction. While I approved a longer stay, they only stayed the night and checked out the next morning.
I can’t report any life changing encounters from this story, and don’t know the current whereabouts of this woman or her friend.
However, what I can tell you is that this was an opportunity for us to bring a kind word, a meal and a safe place to stay for a woman in obvious distress.
Need is all around us, and so much so that it can sometimes seem overwhelming. But if you keep your eyes open, God will use you to make a difference in people’s lives in a way that you never thought possible.
Be on the lookout. It may be your day for a divine appointment.