John is relativity famous in Portland, Oregon. I first heard about him while talking to a barista at Starbucks. One of the other employees has started work on a documentary about John’s homeless life. Then, after walking back from a meeting with a small group of people, one of my friends starts sharing the story of an interaction with a homeless person she had earlier. No sooner does she end the story and there’s John! I introduce myself and start sharing about my work, but before I could finish, John pulls out an Invisible People business card I had left at the Starbucks earlier. It’s as if we were meant to find each other.
John is very candid about how he ended up homeless. At 9 years-old he was molested and abused. For most of his young life he repressed all of the horrible memories. Then in his 30s, the memories started to surface causing PTSD. John eventually was unable to work. He lived in his car for a bit, but when his car was towed, his only choice was homelessness.
For nearly 7 years, John drifted throughout the south, spending most of his time in small towns in Texas. John’s self-esteem was at it’s lowest. He didn’t take care of himself. He didn’t wash or clean! At the time, John weighed over 300lbs and survived by eating thrown-away chicken and donuts out of dumpsters.
John has always been a spiritual person. One night, outside a Chili’s restaurant in Texas, John saw a vision of Christ. In John’s own words “it helped me regain my heart a little bit, and I have been climbing ever since.”
John says that most folks don’t realize that the homeless people you see are “the walking wounded.” Many have been abused beyond imagination, and everyone has a story.
John’s third wish is that Christianity start acting out of kindness. He’d like to see people act out of kindness and love instead of preaching and being judgmental. Amen to that!