At the Gate

I’ll call him Frankie.

Frankie was a boy growing up in the West Central neighborhood of Spokane, Washington when my husband lived at the Westminster House, an incarnational urban ministry connected with Whitworth College. Doug invested a lot of time, love, and prayer in Frankie, as he did with many of the boys in that neighborhood.

Frankie is now a young man in his early twenties. He is in the Spokane County Jail, serving time for possession of Meth and for property damage and theft.

Through a series of contacts, Frankie was able to get his hands on our home phone number and address here in L.A. And boy does he use both. Often. The letters from this kid come regularly, and throughout the week the phone will ring with an automated voice informing me that “an inmate at the Spokane County Jail” is calling. Doug has written Frankie, talked with him at length on the phone, and lifted this young man up in his prayers.

I don’t know Frankie personally. But I know Frankie through the crew of kids I worked with and loved in my old neighborhood of Chicago. I know Frankie through the kids we persist in loving through our after-school tutoring ministry here. And I know Frankie through the troubled young lives that gather on 30th street behind our house.

We used to answer Frankie’s calls, until we got the first phone bill–it’s $5.00 every time just to accept the call! And the pile of letters continues to accumulate here next to my computer. Frankie reminds me how vast the ocean of need is, how consistent the evils are that plague him and so many other young boys desperately trying to become men (whether it is crack in South Central L.A. or Meth in Spokane) and how impotent I can feel in the midst of it.

He also reminds me that poverty has a name and a face, and that hope best comes in the form of a relationship. Like festering Lazarus at the gate of a wealthy man, is it not the case that God brings to each one of us someone, somewhere, who we dare not ignore?


  1. “He also reminds me that poverty has a name and a face, and that hope best comes in the form of a relationship.”

    That is a powerful, loaded sentence. When poverty has faces and becomes “friends who are poor” rather than the abstract “the poor,” we will be in a position to do something about it.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

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