The following is a portion of a post from June 28, 2010. As you will see, this is how I met Curtis and what I learned about him. Afterwards, you will learn more.
On April 10th, an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, approximately 50 of us First Responders arrived from various parts of town. We stood on the sidewalk directly where the shooting had occurred. Standing next to me, holding my hand, was a worn-out, old-looking Black man. This was his first F.R. time.
When we finished praying, I shook hands with him and asked his name. It is Curtis. We walked and talked for a couple minutes and I offered him a ride home.
During the 3-minute drive he shared his story with me. Curtis had been on crack and other drugs for most of his life. He is 52, has been in prison 8 times. Curtis has been “clean” for a year and lives at a Christian rehab house. He is thankful he was in prison so often .... he believes if he had not been behind bars, time after time, he would have been dead through murder or O.D. He is one grateful man.
We have become friends. In this short time, his body appears more solid, his face exhumes more light, and,when we meet, he always hugs me and tells me he’s "doin' good."
How many times would any of us say we were grateful for prison, thankful that it was the right place to be at the right time?
Late yesterday afternoon, I went to a murder site. A man, 47 years old, named Anthony, had been chased by a young man and shot and killed while running through a back yard. This was the 6th murder this year, so it's always disappointing to have to take that time, but we do it.
When I parked in a local post office lot, I saw a man who was using a tri-pod walking cane, having a hard time getting through snow stacked next to the sidewalk. Then I thought, "Isn't that Curtis?" I hadn't seen him for several months, and, since life changes, I couldn't be absolutely sure. When I climbed out of the car, I said, "Hi." Then he turned to me and grinned and I knew it truly was him. But over the past nearly-two years that we've known each other, I'd certainly never seen him with a cane and struggling with and shuffling his left leg.
When I reached him, and we started to walk to the murder prayer site, I hooked our arms together so we could walk slowly and solidly, make it easier for him. I asked him what had happened. This is it:
On January 4th, he had been up the street near this site visiting his Mom. When he left, walking down the block heading for a Bible study, a car came by and the guys inside started shooting at a house. When he saw them nearby, and knew the risk he had, he tossed himself under a car. They saw him do this, and as they were driving past the car, they aimed under it. He was shot in the leg, twice. He is in physical therapy and doing better, but it's going to take a while before he can really walk again.
After the prayer time, we walked back to the parking lot. Before he left with his rehab pastor, he said he'd like to go to lunch with me some day, and said, "I'll pay." [I know he doesn't have much money, if any, so B.K. or McD. will be more than sufficient.] That is very nice. My husband approves of my friendships, so that's not an issue. [One of my goals is to have the men meet. I'm sure Dave can bless Curtis, and maybe the other way around, too.]
1) Curtis knew the man, Anthony, who was murdered. Christian seed may well have been planted in Anthony's heart; the results aren't known.
2) a Middle-School boy was brought to the prayer site. Mason is 12 to 14, and is a grandson of Anthony. It was amazing to see people pray over him and speak very clearly to him about how he can serve the Lord and help to turn this evil around in that part of town.
3) Curtis' son was shot not long ago. 9 bullets, 7 in front, 2 in back... and survived. Curtis is hoping his son will realize that the Lord has His hand protecting him.
In spite of the fact that it's connected to murder, First Responders groups always have joy in the mix. We really do care for each other and, in spite of the reason, we welcome our time together, sharing the Word, encouraging the pastors and "servants", pouring forth love.
Yesterday... cold, cloudy, windy, blah!... was even more a blessing for me than usual. I...saw...Curtis! I know he's still struggling at times with all those decades of addiction and years and years in prison, but he has a soft and caring heart. And he's alive when that shooting that so badly wounded his leg could so easily have ended his life.
I feel so blessed to have another "brother" and it's always... ALWAYS...good to see him.