Maggie’s Story

Every morning my commute to work involves a 15 minute walk from the train station, through Belfast city centre, to my office. En route I pass a lot of homeless people and I have been trying to build up relationships with them rather than just throwing a few coins their way, mumbling some throwaway words, and then hurrying away back to my own safe, comfortable life.

I found it a bit intimidating at first. What if they told me to go away (or more colourful words to that effect) regarding me as just another clueless do gooder who knew nothing of their real needs and situation. 

However, pretty much universally, my tentative, nervous approaches have been met with gratitude. Despite their often dishevelled appearance they could teach many of the well dressed commuters that rush past them a thing or two about manners and dignity.

One of tbem is called Maggie. She is a waif of a girl. She has told me she is twenty years old but looks about twelve. Most days you can see her around the city centre huddled in a doorway trying to keep warm. She is totally vulnerable and I shudder to think what experiences she has been through while living on the streets. Sometimes I see her in the company of much older men and my heart breaks for her.

Don’t get me wrong, she is no angel. There are times I speak to her and she can be distant and uncommunicative, rude even. She has issues with drugs and sometimes I find her glassy eyed and monosyllabic. I suspect she lies to me quite a lot but beneath it all is a lost soul with a good heart just waiting to be heard and helped. There but for the grace of God….

Most of the time, however, she is bright, energetic yet proud and humble. I have to force her to take money, food or cigarettes from me. ‘You do enough she says. You’re my mate. I don’t like taking stuff from you.’ When she is lucid she is witty, intelligent and polite. When she is lucid….

The one thing she can never get right is my name. It has become something of a running joke between the two of us. ‘What’s my name?’ I will ask. ‘Paul’ she will confidently reply before slapping her forehead with the palm of her hand upon realising her mistake. ‘I mean Stephen’ followed by profuse apologies.

I laugh now but I didn’t in the early days of our friendship. It annoyed ME. Here I was giving my time and money to someone who couldn’t even be bothered to remember MY name (never mind she couldn’t probably remember her own name when she was high). How ungrateful.

Then I realised one day that it wasn’t about me. It was about HER. Helping her, loving her and revealing the love of God through my actions. Once more I needed to crucify my former self; feeding her with love would simultaneously starve my ego.

Maggie doesn’t go to church. She doesn’t have a Bible. But from my conversations with her I know she has a faith. It is a brittle, fluctuating faith but it is still there, flickering like a candle in a drafty room. If I can in any way strengthen that weak flame in her then I am doing my job. The relationship between Maggie and me is only a conduit to a much more important relationship between Jesus and her.

So it doesn’t matter if she calls me Stephen, Seth or Serendipity. It’s irrelevant. What matters is that she remembers the name of Jesus. At the end of the day, his is the only name that matters.

In order to protect her identity Maggie is not her real name. But please include her in your prayers today. Pray for her protection, provision and salvation.

Please consider helping a homeless person today on your daily commute. A hot drink, a few coins or a friendly word could mean everything to them.

23 thoughts on “Maggie’s Story

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  1. Your story today is the second reminder from God to share “the name of Jesus”. A devotional that I read reminded me earlier that Jesus came for “the broken beyond repair” and this includes me. How grateful I am that His Bride is sharing His love throughout the world. Seeking to save the lost. Thank you. May Christ be lifted up in all your goings and comings.

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  2. Hello, really enjoy your blog and reading about the goings on. The story about Maggie is just real life beauty in the tragedy, isn’t it? A family member of mine is homeless and has been for most of their life. It’s been a source of frustration and a source of development for me. I really enjoy your consistency with Maggie. It’s easy to give money or food and move on, but to build a relationship is a road most people won’t go down. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. People often say “where is God?” when they look upon the suffering of people in this world. The answer is God moves through us. We are His ambassador…we allow our hands to do His work…and if we do it for His glory…we are being true and faithful followers of Christ not just giving Him lip service on Sundays and passing by Him M-F on our way to work in disdain towards the poor seeking shelter on the streets. ❤️ I love this post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think what you are doing, building a relationship, is great. I am not a Christian myself so don’t think to do stuff in the name of Jesus but I recognise your words and actions as being loving and, in that way, Christ-like. You are obviously pointing towards the light, even in the hard places, which is all you can do. Beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How very sad that there is such poverty and homelessness. In my state 1 in 5 children are food insecure- I live in the USA ” the richest country in the world”. If only more people had the heart of Jesus we could spread love and resources.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great story. I agree that helping those with less is everyone’s responsibility. In the winter we make pots of chilli and I ride around the city giving cups of it away. We are financially strapped with a disabled child but God always provides a way.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. May the seed you are planting within her grow and flourish into a peaceful and beautiful soul replacing her hurting heart with the heart of God – so that she may know she is created and loved by God just as she is. May God bless you for your servants heart!

    Liked by 3 people

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