by Ellen Aldridge, Kaio Community
As I watched Aaron take several pink, puffy little coats out of his big, black bag, I wondered who the lucky little recipients of those coats would be. Aaron has one of the sweetest hearts I have ever encountered. Every time he comes into the Ministry Center, I get one of those wonderful bear hugs that I imagine I will receive in heaven when I finally come home to my Father. He’s even brought in gifts and food for my fellow Kaio interns and me. I went up and asked him jokingly, “Are those coats for you?”
He smiled widely and said, “No these are for my little nieces. Somebody’s gotta spoil them! I don’t have any kids of my own, so I have to spoil somebody!”
I have learned so much about caring for others, especially family, from Aaron. He is fiercely loyal to those he considers to be in his family. He loves people so well and he reaches out to those who are hurting, whether they are Emmaus guest or Emmaus staff members. I have so much to learn about loving people well and I have been learning from Aaron both through conversations and through his modeling to me in the center.
One question continued to baffle me as I considered his incredible generosity and propensity for bear hugs: “How on earth could somebody who has been burned, used, and abused so many times in his life still have so much love inside of him?” The only answer I could come up with was the transforming power of Christ’s love.
Aaron has told me about his life many years ago and how he used to be so angry, explosive, and addicted to life on the streets. If I met him on the street today, I would have no idea that he had those things in his past—I would probably just get a big smile and a bear hug! If there was ever a billboard man for a heart of stone changed to a heart of flesh, I think that it’s Aaron. The fruit of the Spirit is so evident in his life that it makes me want to get closer to Jesus.
It’s so interesting how the people you think you are supposed to be serving are oftentimes the ones who end up serving you. So when I think about those adorable little girls running around in those puffy, pink coats, it reminds me to focus more of my time on loving other people well and giving them my own version of a bear hug or a puffy pink coat.