[O]n a nearly weekly basis for the last three years we have been with Scottie at Mary’s Kitchen. Time and a willingness to engage on a personal level have allowed a relationship to blossom. I am not speaking of a paternal, correcting encounter. I am speaking of a mutual, respectful relationship.

Scottie has gotten to know us; we have gotten to know Scottie. Shared time of laughter, counsel, prayer, compassion and concern. I have gotten after Scottie, I have hugged Scottie. We have talked about the weather, sports, Seattle, music, moms, dads and brothers. We have laughed until we have cried, and I have plain cried with him. I have a relationship with him and it permits me the joy of being deeply involved in his life.

As I have come to know Scottie, I have come to know a man who is above all, kind, intelligent, compassionate, funny, and gentle. I have come to know a man who in a somewhat appealing way marches to the beat of his own individual drummer. Scottie is by no means a simple man, but he has made some choices that put him outside of what society would factor as the “norm”.

Scottie lives in a drainage easement somewhere along the Santa Ana River. He has worked much of his life. He currently is not employed. He is also not currently qualified to receive any sort of state or federal aid. Scottie avails himself of various church and other nonprofit agencies to meet his daily needs. I first met Scottie at the Santa Ana River Trail, and then more consistently when we began serving lunch on Saturdays at Mary’s Kitchen. We all have been blessed by his friendship.

Scottie began complaining about some physical pain he was experiencing (and I will paraphrase) “it is below the belt”. He was frightened by this pain and the underlying thought that he, on his own, had no means to properly have his condition cared for. Based on his description of the pain and its location, we casually diagnosed his problem as a hernia. Seemly, Scottie was not satisfied with our diagnosis as he proceeded to drop his trousers and show us up close and personal his area of concern. I believe it was then that we collectively understood the depth of his fear; as a grown man does not usually want to drop his pants in front of other men unless in one’s mind it is the last resort. We were blessed at the very same time in the realization that only a friendship built on time and trust would allow a man to be so vulnerable in front of others.

We assured Scottie that we were there for him and that we could help. Joy2 mobilized to help. I contacted Dr. Stewardson, the surgeon who had done my own hernia surgery a few years previously, and asked if he would be willing to see Scottie. He agreed without hesitation and an office visit was scheduled. I drove Scottie to his initial visit with the hope that Dr. Stewardson would be willing to discount his services. Again without hesitation, the doctor promised his services to Scottie at no charge. Sensing a truly joyful event was unfolding, we scheduled and completed Scottie’s pre-op tests at the hospital. Surgery was schedule and Joy2 made arrangements with the hospital to pay for their direct costs of anesthesia and other various expenses.

The Surgery went off as planned and without incident. We arranged for Scottie to be in a motel and his friend Ish stayed with him to nurse him back to full strength.

Relationship allowed for trust, and trust provided the platform for Scottie to be vulnerable and speak to us about a real and pressing need. Many were involved and many were touched by the experience. Scottie was certainly touched and grateful. Scottie’s mother, living in Seattle, was put at ease. Dr. Stewardson was very vocal about the “good” that was done. Dr. Stewardson’s staff were visibly pleased to be a part. A number of hospital administrators took notice. It was obvious that some of the nurses associated with Scottie’s care were affected. The clerk at the motel Scottie and Ish stayed in was moved and helpful. I would venture a guess, though, that the folks most touched were the folks of Joy2.

My prayer is that you can begin to see that real joy is in the movement of the blessings we have received, passing through us and landing in the laps of God’s designated recipients. It is clear that goodness and compassion are far reaching and thus touch many more lives than we are aware of. These kindnesses, no matter their size, are the basis, while the love of Jesus is the foundation of Joy2. We are the church.