Written by my husband, Jason Sowder 5-9-2016
Thank you Babe for showing us your heart and sharing!
I went on the journey of a lifetime! Did I travel to a far off place or pack up and head to a beautiful Caribbean resort? Nope. - I participated in the Union Gospel Mission's Search and Rescue program. And I have to say the experience was BETTER than any get-away I have ever had. What I learned in one night surpasses all book knowledge I've been able to retain in my limited brain. ;-P
Here is the abbreviated story…
Traveling in the Search and Rescue van we were trying to merge onto the highway but backed up by traffic. We waited a few minutes, anxious as we were not able to continue our mission. The anxiety quickly diminished as I look to my right to see a man on a bike, out of breath and barely able to talk due to trying to catch up with our van. Immediately this just struck a chord in my heart.
Once we were able to pull over, I had the pleasure to speak with him. I say pleasure as it was a pleasure and honor to know he was willing to talk with me and tell me his story. That God put me in front of him for a reason. I honestly still tear up thinking about this experience, it truly touched the deepest part of my soul.
He’s in his mid to late 40's, hasn't showered in a while and could not see well due to medical problems. I quickly learned Mathew doesn't have the comforts of a "home”. His possessions consisted of a bike and satchel stuffed full of his necessities - that's it lock, stock and barrel. And, I later learned he used to have glasses but they were stolen a while back. He now travels the streets nearsighted in one eye and blurry vision in the other - no matter the distance.
Matthew was raised in a farming community. As he explained, from a young age he felt like he never “fit in”. He was made fun of and the butt of horrible jokes. Didn't have any close friends. And as I read between the lines to understand, the love of his father was only achieved through working hard on the farm. Working hard for his family was never enough to numb the pain of peer ridicule.
At some point Mathew's family moved closer to Seattle to start in the logging industry. Matthew explained again he felt he didn't fit in, never close to anyone. He tells me "people didn't know how to take a guy with a beard who drove a logging truck to school".
At some point through the years and some not-so-good choices Matthew found his way to Seattle roaming the streets still carrying his childhood baggage. Still looking into people's eyes feeling he doesn't fit in…
Matthew and I spent more time talking about God and how Matthew sees how God has saved him from many terrible situations and knows He has a plan for him. Looking in his eyes I can see a lost soul, a soul that the evil-one has captured using drugs and negative self talk firmly pressing his thumb over the top of Matthew's well being.
There are a few reasons I wanted to write this quick note. First, we all have baggage we are trying to overcome, all at varying degrees and varying effects on our lives. Next, when you walk by the person living on the street, remember they have a story. Pray for them. Pray that today they will finally allow God to lift them out of the mud and mire setting their feet on solid ground. Lastly, consider jumping in the Search and Rescue van on a night and helping - by listening, praying and providing a warm blanket and food to someone who is still stuck - stuck like we all get stuck, except their stuck has lasted a lot longer and had a much more profound affect on their life.
God is bigger than all of this and it takes people like you, with stories to tell all the "Mathew’s" stories of what God has done for us and that it’s not too late. To simply provide H-O-P-E......
Dear gracious merciful God, please guard Mathew, please direct the right people in his life to get the help he needs, I ask that you continue to show Matthew he needs to make the commitment to get clean and look to you for direction in all aspects of his life. Amen