by Mary Mayberry, Kaio Community Member
“I’m just so lonely!” Craig blurted out as he approached Andrew and me. We were on Outreach on a chilly Sunday evening.
You try not to pick favorites, but Craig has endeared himself to me. Whenever he sees me, he screams “MARY!” and scurries over to give me a hug. He towers over my six-foot frame, but is childlike in his demeanor.
Craig’s loneliness is a frequent conversation topic. That night he said, “All my friends do drugs, and I know it’s bad for me to be around them. I know I should not be out here, but I knew you all would be here and I wanted to hang out with you.”
The next day at the Ministry Center we cooked a meal that included ham and macaroni and cheese. During lunch, I invited Craig to join Andrew and me at a diner during our Outreach shift that night. His face lit up as he agreed.
When we got to our meeting spot, Craig was there, grinning and shouting our names. We entered the diner, chose a booth, took off our layers, and settled in for midnight pancakes, coffee, and conversation.
“What’s your dream?” I asked Craig. “If you could have any job and live in any location in the world, what would it be?”
“I want to be a CTA bus driver in Chicago!” he declared.
Craig talked about his aspirations and his love of driving. Andrew and I shared funny moments from our day. While we were eating and chatting and tossing back late-night coffee, Craig forgot that he would soon call a train seat a bed.
For me, it was just like hanging out with any friends of mine. It was almost a revelation to me later that Craig does have friends who don’t use. He has Andrew. He has me. He has other staff members and volunteers at Emmaus.
Jesus met people where they were, developed friendships, invited them to His table, and saw lives changed. We meet our guys where they are, develop friendships, invite them to share a meal, show them the love of Jesus and, little by little, start to see lives changed.
In my work with Emmaus, sometimes I’m a cook. Other times, I’m a counselor. But my favorite role is being a friend.