Death to prayer in 5 minutes in Skid Row

Okay. I think I’m finally ready to discuss my day.

So, I’m in Skid Row this week, trying just to be a light in a dark place. I’m not going to lie, It has been hard to keep shining based on the systemic failure all around me. The week started out okay, until I get to the Mission yesterday and find out a 90 year old man was dropped off from Anaheim, California to the Mission. He was put out of a care facility because he could no longer pay them. He was in a wheelchair and could not control his bowels. The mission was not equipped to care for the man. I couldn’t just leave him, so I called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. I was livid, but glad the Mission called so we could help him. I don’t get what other cities are thinking when they drip off people who can’t fend for themselves in one of the most dangerous place in the state.

I went home and tried to sleep it off. It worked…kind of. So I buck up and head to work again trying to stay positive. I gave some awesome students from Boise State an educational tour of Skid Row. I was in my zone as I walked them trough the row and along with two other officers received nothing but love from the people I served. I could tell that what the students heard about us was shattered by the support we were receiving as we walked.

My head was lifted again until I came to another mission. As I stood in front of it with the students, I was flagged down by a dedicated staff worker about a woman who needed an ambulance nearby. I was thinking it would be another overdose victim who I could simply revive with a call to the fire department. I was wrong.

On the ground an elderly woman was laying motionless on the ground. A woman told me she had been lying there since 8AM. I grabbed her hand, shook her and called to her. She did not move. I had some hope when she twitched. I checked her finger tips and it was clear she was gone. It was heartbreaking for me that she laid there in crisis amongst so many and no one noticed. was unable to continue the tour with the students. Everything I was telling them and have been trying to tell thousands of people since 2005 was in full display to them. There was nothing more to be said. As another unit took over, I gathered myself and began walking the students to the station in a state of complete sadness.

I didn’t get far as I saw another Skid Row friend leaning as he was about to fall. Two men were in front of him. I figured he was in the throws of the heroin lean and the two men were trying to keep him from falling. I approached them and asked the men if he was ok. They said the man was not in crisis, but he was praying. I had to be sure, so I asked my bud if he was okay. He said “Yes Joseph, I’m praying.” I apologized for interrupting and started to walk away. He called to me and said “I was praying for you Joseph. Come here.” I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. It appeared he was leaning on me, but the truth was, spiritually I was leaning on him. He bowed his head again and prayed for my protection and for God to give me strength to keep fighting for them.

It was as if something inside of him felt I was giving up hope. He got to me in the nick of time.When he was done praying, I hugged this man and thanked him for praying from. On the surface he clearly needed more prayer than I did. I wanted to cry right there in sadness for the tragedy I saw and thanksgiving for the blessing I just received. I walked the students back to the station. My message to them and all who I get the honor to tell the truth about Skid Row was this:

They are the future great minds of this nation. I am limited in how I can help in my uniform, but armed with the truth, not idealism, politics or agenda, they have the power to change this current narrative and fix where others are failing miserably. If I was able to inspire that in them and others, there lies the hope for change. Maybe not now, but with them listening to the hear of a man who has tried for nearly 20 years, maybe later.

To the homeless man who prayed for me, I thank you. You brought me back to life today. Because of you and other angels, I’ll keep fighting. To the woman who passed away, may you rest in eternal peace.

Please pray for the elderly man tonight y’all.