i went to visit my boy Stu (not his real name) today. he’s locked up in toronto east metro detention center at warden and eglington. Stu’s been there for 2 months now because he was denied bail the first time he went up for it. next week he goes back for round two, and if he gets bail, he’ll be able to go home until his trial in novemberish. he’d be under strict rules obviously, but he would be home.
most of us know what ‘home‘ is or what it’s like.
but for some reason i’m not entirely sure that Stu knows what home is really like. in order to explain this more, i’ll have to back up a little bit…
i met Stu just over 5 years ago at a youth convention. there was a basketball tourny and we both needed a team, so we joined together to make one. from that day, our friendship (although it’s more than a friendship) began. we bumped into each other a couple of weeks later at a church out in pickering, ON. since then, we’ve been tight. we ball together, we go to raptors games together, we hang out, heck, sometimes we even pray together. i say sometimes for a reason. Stu’s membership in the Body of Christ has been shakey to say the least. he’s had an on-and-off again relationship with God ever since i’ve known him, but God hasn’t forsaken him. while Stu was living in pickering, he stayed with a “foster” family that took him in. they weren’t officially his foster parents or anything, just a safe place for him to call home and experience God. a couple of years back, shane left that foster family and moved in with his grandmother in south-west scarborough. then he spent a bit of time with his mother and her boyfriend. then he moved to his stepdad (who he calls his dad) and his wifes house. then he moved out to brampton to be closer to his girlfriend. then he moved back with his stepdad. last summer something strange happened though. Stu and i were walking through the mall in newmarket and a man called out, “Stu!” from across the hallway. Stu looked up, “oh shit,” he said, and turned his head away. “what?” i asked. “that’s my dad.” wow, 4 years i’ve known Stu and now i finally get to meet some of his blood family. his dad approached us, and immediately it hit me like a mack truck. it was the smell of a dead-beat dad. it was the smell of a middle-aged black man that was intoxicated in the middle of the afternoon. we chatted for a bit and then moved on. Stu was a bit aggrivated about bumping into his dad, which i found strange since it had been 6 years since their last meeting. all of this to say, i never knew anything about Stu’s family. anyways, in the 5 years i’ve known Stu i never asked him about his family, until today.
as we sat there face to face (i’m on the pastors list at east metro so i can visit inmates face to face as opposed to on the phone through the glass) and talked about who had been in to visit him i said, “does your dad know about this?” “no,” he replied, “he doesn’t deserve to know. when you abandon your child you lose out on that.”
…all of this to say, i’m not sure that Stu knows what home is like. he has no connection with his blood anymore, except for the occasional visit from his mother and maternal grandmother. however, when he gets out, he plans to cut-off communication with that side of his family. he has moved around from friend to friend, foster home to foster home, city to city, and i’m not sure he has ever really known home (his “foster” family in pickering were amazing and loved him despite everything, but, although he was exposed to home there, i don’t think he had the eyes to see it).
next week, Stu may get to leave prison and go home. but what is home? and so here i am, left with an incredible burden to see Stu fulfill his God given purpose on this earth. however, in order to do this he will need to be ambushed by love and redemption. a life-altering redemption. i feel as though i need to show Stu what home is like. welcome him. love him. embrace him. empower him.
God be my strength so i can do this. be my wisdom so i know how to do this. and be my joy so that i can rejoice in this difficulty.
more importantly God, be these things for Stu. be his strength, wisdom and joy. may he know you. open his ears and eyes. may he see that you are HERE. PRESENT. LOVING. redeem him.