I am a Peace Officer and I work with people rough sleeping in my city (Calgary, AB). Today I came across a man named Lance in a public park who my partner and I decided to engage in conversation after committing an offence in a public park.
Shortly after learning his name, Lance began to tell me his story. Constantly in and out of prison since the age of 17, moved around from foster home to foster home during his childhood, and a drug addict of 38 years.
Lance is a very spiritual person who has turned to Christ to better himself. We had a very lengthy and argumentative conversation where he questioned my compassion and I questioned his long term goals. He doesn't believe in institution in general, and has been burned by the justice and social agency system too many times to believe it could help anyone.
I don't believe in a God per say, but have my own spiritual beliefs. Lance cried many times during the conversation, mostly because he was so overwhelmingly happy to have someone to share his story with. We bought him some food, and sat with him while he explained his recent turn to Christ and how he hopes to beat his addiction one more time.
Near the end of our encounter, Lance turns to me and gives me the only possession he owned other than the clothes on his back (he had just been stolen from minutes before we had arrived) - a small ring. Not worth much, but to me it meant a lot. It was his only possession and he wanted me to have it.
That's when I knew that I had something to give him as well. I got my partner to help me take off my "Strength" Giving Key and gave it to Lance. With tears in his eyes he fell to his knees and thanked me profusely for the gesture. I made him promise me that when he no longer needed it, to pass it on to someone that would need it more than him. I won't ever forget today, and I want to thank this initiative for helping me give someone who had nothing just a little bit of hope.