Mar 26, 2010

Big hearts

Street youth have big hearts. That's just a fact. They are always
adopting dogs, cats, mice, rats, and other pets. They take great care
of them.  Street dogs living with street youth may be the happiest
dogs in the world. In Austin, they get free care from ATA (Animal
Trustees of Austin). This is actually a draw. Kids come from all over
when it's time to get care for their dogs. Dogs are very popular on
the street. They really like "tough" breeds, but they don't raise them
to be mean like those scary people on TV. Street kids raise their pets
to be kind, gentle, and obedient.

This past Friday I ran into two friends with unusual pets. The first
adopted an opossum baby because the mother had died. He keeps him
under his hat, attached to his crazy head of hair. This is not the
first opossum pet I've seen.  Last fall, Project Reaching Out
volunteers saw and pet an opossum. I am told that my own father played
with opossum babies as a kid growing up in Oklahoma.

The second friend had adopted a kitten. She rides on his shoulders,
towering above the crowd because he is so tall. People stopped to say
she is cute. Several people offered to buy her. This was insulting to
my friend since it somehow implied they didn't think he could take
care of her and would prefer the money. I urge people to be thoughtful
about making offers like this. A pet is not property to a street
youth. It's a dear friend, just like how most of us view our pets.

I sometimes use the illustration of the love of a dog to reach street
kids with the gospel. One of the more hardened atheists I know on the
street has a wonderful dog. That dog loves her master. One day, my
friend was sitting on the sidewalk, drinking, and very down
emotionally. I noticed how much he loved letting the dog come up and
put one paw on each shoulder and "hug" him. I commented, "There is
nothing like the unconditional love of a dog." He replied, "Don't you
know it!" I continued, "You know... that's how much God loves you,
too. God wants nothing more than to put both paws on your shoulders
and give you a huge hug." He looked at me. Tears formed in his eyes.
"It's too late for me. I've done too much. I don't believe in God and
He doesn't believe in me." "It's NOT too late. You just have to stop
keeping God away from you. Let Him come. Let Him love you. It's just
like letting your dog love you. You have to let it happen. You have to
want it to happen. God loves you unconditionally and can't wait to
show you." He answered, "I don't see God that way. But maybe someday I
will. Maybe someday." It must be hard to be an atheist when you
recognize that you want the love of the Father. I am sure this friend
will one day find it.