Papa G: the dilemma

Papa G is one of my chief dilemmas. His presence causes me to weigh my love versus the efficiency of the program. He causes me to ask "how do I love you with Kingdom Love; the kind of love Jesus expressed in the Gospels?"

Papa G earned his name from his past affiliation with the Gangster Disciples. Today, he is an alcoholic. A chronically bad alcoholic! He is the kind of alcoholic that gets the shakes when he hasn't sipped a beer. His fragile body would go into massive shock and he would quite possibly die if he were to simply stop drinking!

Sadly, Papa G has never learned to read or write and seems to have the mental capacity of a 7 year old (the same age as my son). This 60 year old man has been a victim of a defunct schooling system. It never took the time or effort to assess and help him function with his learning disability. In fact, he was never assessed, so he just plodded along knowing and trying to hide this disability, which hindered any possibility of him finding employment.

The Papa G we experience today is the result of an ignored past. It seems he has been ignored by everyone. Yes everyone, except of course, the Gangster Disciples and a few folk in the local homeless community.

One day Papa G steps into our lives. Here is this older gentleman sleeping behind Adli's. Some of our regular homeless friends mention his infamous nick-names, not knowing his birth name. It was winter and they tell me the story, "Some local thugs threw some firecrackers on him as he slept under a mound of blankets and they caught fire!" Luckily, he was unscathed, but because of compassionate concern for him, they feared his safety and beg me to find him a safe spot to sleep at night!

This fragile old man looks far older than what he is. He is slim and wrinkled with a natty clump of hair. As I start to get to know him and see the effect of alcohol on his life, I see how helpless and hopeless he has become. I see how he needs desperate help. This man should be receiving “disability income” and a medical card, so we set up appointments, but he needs someone to hold his hand, or else he'll never get any housing or income. He’ll simply fade away into the night! Papa G is a grown man who cannot function and / or survive on his own. He needs others.

Yet, Papa G reaps havoc wherever he may roam......

Papa G's quiet demeanor turns into something savage after he's been slurping down his bottles of Dimitri Gin. He suddenly becomes loudly obnoxious; he stumbles into people and urinates where he shouldn't. I am convinced he blacks out and doesn't know what he is doing and saying. It doesn't matter who he argues with, how big or dangerous the person may be, he'll yell his catch phrase; "I'm a mother-f@#%ing gangster, I'll beat your mother-f@#%ing ass, you don't know who the f@#% I am! I'll kick your....."

This is the dilemma; the Papa G dilemma. He obviously needs desperate help, but he constantly does things that warrant termination from the program. His cussing and drinking cause mayhem and he ends up putting himself in danger because he is old, fragile and drunk! But staying at the shelter is far safer than the streets, where he has been the target of hate crimes and life-threatening weather.

Love needs us to question and analyze these dilemmas.

Love provokes us to break from the rules and choose the narrow road, to choose non-conformity.

Love will have us sitting down and listening to his rants, while trying to tolerate his foul and rancid stench.

Love will put us in harm’s way when we forgive the verbal assaults and try to be a peacemaker.

Love will take us on the rugged path of faith, courage and chaos. The smooth path of normalcy and rules would toss Papa G into our mean streets, but Love takes that confusing action and allows this man to stay despite the tension and conflict he causes!
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