The pain and suffering of the world often go unnoticed. We walk around as if anesthetized to it.
We pass the homeless, we lock our car doors at intersections, and we cast glances of disdain while murmuring, “get a job” under our breath. At least those of us who are more Ebenezer Scrooge than Mother Teresa do.
It is easy to ignore the suffering of others because humans are by nature, self-focused. We get busy trying to care for ourselves and our families. Sometimes we cannot see the broken things and people in front of us.
This lack of awareness is often only overcome when it slams into our comfortable life and upsets our internal justice scale.
Stephanie and Al Blackbird of Arizona had such an encounter when they saw a thin, frail, and confused man standing in a Whole Foods aisle clutching a five-dollar bill. Alan Vandervander did not look well. “He looked lost, and I couldn’t walk away, I couldn’t in good conscience walk away without checking on the man,” Stephanie said.
Once she spoke to him, Stephanie realized the man was hungry and frail. She offered him dinner and visited with him while he slowly ate a sandwich.
During their conversation, the Blackbirds realized Vandervander was living in the desert just outside of one of the most affluent areas of Scottsdale, Arizona. The next day, December 24th, determined to find him and his encampment, they worked off of the clues he’d given in their earlier conversation.
Once they found him, they gave him supplies, and with his permission, took this Purple Heart recipient to the hospital. At the hospital, they discovered he had family in Indiana who’d looked for him for decades.
Recovering from malnutrition, dehydration, and a heart attack, Vandervander is on the mend but has a long way to go. A GoFundMe account is set up to help toward his recovery.
One couple, on a busy night right before Christmas, saw a man in need and became grace at that moment. Like God chases us down to show us His love, they ran after Vandervander to show him their genuine concern. A life saved, and a family reunited. All because one woman refused to look away and instead embraced the brokenness around her.