This article is written by Heather Bench, from our ministry partner New Family Tree Ministries
I watched the movie The Soloist over the weekend. It broke, then uplifted my heart. This true story about Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ayers tugged me in a new way.
Mr. Ayers is a gentleman who is a brilliant musician. He was accepted and trained by Julliard until mental illness overtook his mind. He has lived on the streets of LA for most of his life, making beautiful music with old broken instruments he had found and gathered over the years.
Mr. Lopez is a writer for the Los Angeles Times who, while nearing a deadline for a story, met Mr. Lopez at a statue of Beethoven, Mr. Ayers favorite composer. Mr. Lopez began his journey with Mr. Ayers as a means to an end…a story for a looming press deadline. What happened afterwards…well, is a story that is now a movie.
What struck me during this movie was that the homeless could be considered orphans. Mr. Ayers is orphaned by choice. No longer willing to consider treatment after having horrible experiences with electroshock therapy, he chooses to live orphaned with only a sleeping room. He continues to be trapped by the mental illness that consumes him. Yes, there are new medications that could remarkably enhance and change Mr. Ayers situation, but at the present time he is unable to make that choice. With all that Mr. Lopez has to offer, Mr. Ayers cannot accept a complete earthly healing.
Which leads me to me…to you…to us…the body of Christ. So often, we are quick to offer answers and solutions and “help” orphans find the cure. We want to “fix” them, make all the bad in their world go away. And so often, we fail to see what God sees, His child, who He has a plan for since before time. So often our plan is not His. What did Jesus say in Matthew 25:35?
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Note that Jesus says, “I was sick and you looked after me.” It does not say, “took away my choices, forgot my dignity, molded me to have the life you lead” It simply says, “you looked after me.” You gave me friendship and I knew you could be counted on and trusted.
Friends, that is orphan care. Orphans are in our world through many different means. Some are children needing a home…some are the single parent household that needs acceptance…some are homeless men and women lost in mental illness. However they come we must answer with food, drink, acceptance, friendship, unconditional love. Our plans, our “fixes”, our human thoughts cannot compare to the orphan care that Jesus wants to do through us.
I think Mr. Lopez sums it up well. Morley Safer interviewed him for 60 Minutes shortly before the movie was released into theaters:
Mr. Lopez: It’s the most meaningful friendship that I’ve had in my life, it’s the one I’ve learned the most from.
Mr. Safer: In this process do you kind of discover the inner good guy?
Mr. Lopez: I think that I did. He [Mr. Ayers] grew to trust me and he grew to rely on me and I knew that he needed that in his life. And I felt good about giving that.
Friends, who are the orphans you can befriend today?