An Open Apology To Everyone Experiencing Homelessness

Can I ask you an important question?

What breaks your heart? If fact, if you have a heartbeat, you’ve experienced some type of heartache before.

Maybe it was a disappointment. Maybe it was some sort of loss. Maybe it was self-inflicted because of a bad decision. Maybe it was some type of relational hurt.

Whatever it was, you will never forget how that heartbreak felt.

Not to diminish personal heartbreaks, but I’m after a different type of answer in this blog.

I’m seeking to know what breaks your heart publicly? Most times when we think of heartbreak, we only think of it from a personal lens.

So for the sake of this blog, I would like for you to pause for a moment to consider another type of heartbreak.

Let’s look at it from a different viewpoint.

Let me ask you again. When you look out into the world, what breaks your heart?

Is it sex-trafficking? Is it racial division? Is it hungry children? Is it poverty or homelessness?

Whatever it is, it has to be something! If I can be completely honest, I am afraid that we are moving further and further away from empathy and into the abyss of apathy.

Yesterday, my friend and I visited Birmingham, AL after I walked tons of miles on behalf of the poor for #MAP18.

We visited the 16th Baptist Church and walked around the historical park across from it.

This is the same church where four little girls were killed when the church was bombed during the Civil Rights movement.

After soaking up both the deep tragedies and triumphs of Birmingham, we hopped in the car and drove to find people dealing with homelessness.

We encountered a few people. One lady dealing with a mental disability stood on the corner and literally used the restroom on herself. I suspect she did it because she had nowhere to go to relieve herself, and no support and community.

It broke my heart. Would that break your heart? To know that she was out there alone with no clothes and probably no medication or treatment?

Then we finally met Eric.

Eric is the reason I’m writing this apology.

I’ve worked in homelessness ministry for 14 years, but something about Eric broke my heart all over again.

He was walking down the street when I noticed him. He left one of his many bags sitting on the ground (which was a sign that he was possibly homeless).

I stopped the car and asked him if he needed some help. He responded, “Yeah, I do need some help carrying my bag.”

What I think Eric was really saying is, “I need someone. Anybody. Support.”

I parked, got out of the car, and carried his bags a few hundred feet to an empty park where he’d stay the night.

For some reason, he immediately opened up and began to share his story,

“I used to be a pharmacy student. I was on the right track, and I had a mental breakdown. In fact, here’s my medicine I have to take right here. I struggle with depression.”

After talking for a while, he paused and asked a question that I will never forget. He asked, “Who sent you all?” He then looked up towards heaven and said, “I know you all being here is divine.”

It kind of reminded me of the scripture when Jesus says, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Eric with a grateful disposition said, “You all are making me rich today. Keep loving people.”

What I think Mr. Eric was saying is, “Thank you for making me rich by stopping and noticing me in the ruins of my life. Thank you for not judging me and taking time to stop and make me rich by noticing that I exist. Thank you for praying with me when people use their bias to prey on me.”

After spending time with Eric, my heart broke again for the many people experiencing homelessness across this country. Therefore, I want to apologize to a community of people that constantly feels isolated and alone.

So here goes:

Today, I want to apologize to you if you’re experiencing homelessness and have been judged, overlooked, walked by, and abused by the words of people who have never walked in your shoes.

I apologize that you feel alone and like no one has been there for you.

I apologize that we live in a society that looks down on you when you can’t shower, brush your teeth, sleep in a bed, have a change of clothes, or meet some false expectations.

I apologize every single time you reached out, and literally got nothing in return.

I apologize when people look at you on the side of the road, and lock their doors and ride by.

I apologize that you somehow find yourself isolated, and are unable to trust the outside world.

I apologize that we have somehow overlooked your traumas and judged you when you developed a mental health issue and used substances to cope with life.

I apologize that some of us haven’t displayed the same love towards you that we want from God.

I apologize that you have to sometimes sleep outside when there are abandoned buildings all around you that could help you.

I apologize for every single time you were put out of a shelter, asked to provide ID when you didn’t have one, and shoved leftovers like you don’t have a preference(s).

I apologize we haven’t made you a priority in our country, and I apologize if you serve in our country and are still struggling to find benefits and housing.

I apologize that we haven’t allowed your plights to break our hearts to the point where we rise up and say enough is enough.

I apologize and I want you to know that I love you, and there are many others like me out here that love you.

I love you for being brave enough to weather your hardships sometimes with a smile and faith.

I admire you for having the courage to weather poverty and in many instances with deferred hope.

Today, I and thinking about you and what you to know my heart breaks for this plight.

I will continue to fight on your behalf.

This is my apology.

Your friend,


Hate won’t stop me!

I’ve been up since 3AM thinking about today’s walk. Today makes 8 days since I left the Center for Civil & Human Rights and started walking to the Lorraine Motel.

Yesterday, I crossed the state line.

Although a huge accomplishment, it has come with both blessing and challenges as I walk through small towns.

For instance, yesterday I was walking with my friends and had three experiences that made my flesh crawl and eyes water.

The first experience was when a young guy threatened to hit my friend and I.

Harvey and I were walking on the side of the road with a good shoulder between us and the actual road. We thought we were safe because we were not in the road.

We were feeling good, and then I saw a car coming at us. Yes. A car intentionally coming at us.

The driver was not texting and driving, and he was not distracted. I know this because he looked me dead in my eyes as he pointed the moving vehicle towards us.

As he got closer, at the last minute he swerved the car and flipped us the finger and sped off.

What would make this guy do that? Racism? Hate? I don’t know but it made me feel unwanted as I walked through a city where people were looking at us strange and dealing with tons of poverty.

As soon as we got past that incident, we encountered another incident.

I’ll never forget 10 minutes later two guys in a red pick up truck (with a confederate flag on the bumper) pulled up beside Harvey and I and stared us down and pulled off fast and yelled out the window, “Be safe out here.”

After the second incident, I then noticed I wasn’t wanted in the city.

But, I continued to walk. Why? Because although I was being treated wrong I still saw their poverty. I saw that many of people that were being mean towards us also were in poverty.

I had a moment where I wanted to play it safe and say it isn’t worth it, but then I thought…

“I’m walking for people that may be poor but hate the color of my skin.”

It was at that moment that God gave me the courage to continue walking towards the AL state line.

Jesus’ words yet again challenged me to love in spite of the hatred.

He says,

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”

—Matthew 5:44 NKJV

Although I wanted to get angry, love wouldn’t allow me to do it.

I thought about King’s non-violent approach to solving issues. Although King’s words were radical at moments he also expressed genuine love to all.

In fact, he understood that love is the strongest force when he said in his book Strength to Love, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

After having all those glorious thoughts I was given yet another experience to test my heart to see if I meant it.

Almost three miles from the state border, another pick up truck pulled up beside us, and rolled down the window and stared us down.

We thought they were going to ask us if we needed a ride, but they didn’t.

They backed their truck up (screeching the tires) and sat there looking at us roaring their engine. Ali (a spot car driver) was close and we hopped into the car until they left.

Afterwards, we got out and continued to walk.

Each encounter felt like hate, racism, and anger.

Thinking about the depths of what I felt made me refrain from sharing on social media until I gathered my thoughts.

This morning, as I write this some people will not like it but others will understand what experiences like those do to an African American in this country.

I don’t like racism. It’s sin and shouldn’t exist. But, it does exist and we have to work to eradicate it altogether. We must do it together and not blame each other!

Although I’d love to get angry and stop the march because of those experiences my passion won’t allow me to do that.

Not only am I marching for the poor, I’m also marching for the poverty stricken that may not like the color of my skin.

Why? Because that’s what God has called me to do—love regardless.


Moving Past The Fear

Today is DAY 4 of #MAP18 and my body is feeling the wear and tear already. Not to mention, I just looked outside and it’s raining. I remember these types of days during the last walk, and they are draining.

If I’m honest, I’d like to pack up my bags and go home where it’s comfortable and safe.

Why? Because the roads ahead of me are long, and filled with the unknown. But, I’m the type of person that never commits to anything that I’m not willing to complete and finish.

Sometimes people think because I do these type of campaigns that fear isn’t present, but that’s actually not true. Fear is always there, but my faith is greater!

I believe a little bit of fear is always present with all of us, and that same fear paralyzes some people from moving forward. It’s only four days into this journey and the fear  is telling me to stop and go back home! 

But, each time I see a different face of someone who is poor, voiceless, or vulnerable God’s courage tells me to continue.

We must press and move past the fear in order to fulfill our purpose(s). How fear is holding you back and telling you to go home?

Maybe to overcome it, you may have to do what I’m doing and listen to courage and faith more.

Last night, I was reminded that I’m not only walking for people who are poor, but also for those who may need to have their perspectives changed.

I was inboxed over Facebook by a man that I never met, but he said my posts changed his perspective.

He writes,

“Hey Terence. First of thank you for caring for the people of the world unconditionally. Second thank you for moving me. I seen a post of yours about 30 minutes ago and have been scroll threw your page. I’m young and have a young family and you have inspired me, and reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for. I have been feeling a little lost and it realized threw your videos and post and movement that it’s because I have been focused on myself and my family. When someone out there would love to just have a warm meal or even a kind word. Again thank you. I will share your story in hopes that your movement may change the world or at the very least someone else’s moment.”

His posts echos two messages that will push me today.

Firstly, it echos that no matter where we are in life, we should remain grateful. Gratitude is the fuel that keeps us focused on what matters most and centers us inwardly. This same gratitude pushes us to stand in awe of God.

Second and last, it echos that life is too short to only be focused on yourself and play it safe. We are are given opportunities to serve those around us and we must be bold in serving others.

As I close this blog, I’m thinking about Jesus’ words found in Luke 4,

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19, NKJV


We Can’t Continue To Pass By

There’s a famous parable told by Jesus in scripture about the “Good Samaritan.”

If you are unfamiliar, it’s a parable where Jesus is trying to teach people with status, religiosity, and power how to love those that are down and out.

If you have read this before check it out in 10:25–37.

Jesus tells this story of a man that lost every single thing and was left on the side of the road to die because he was beaten and robbed.

There were two opportunities for him to receive help, but the two persons that could have helped passed right by and did nothing.

However, the story takes an interesting twist.

There is this least likely person that appears on the scene and sees the man battling for his life! This Samaritan  makes his way over to the man and chooses to close the social and geographical distance between himself and the man’s poverty.

He doesn’t stop there! He cares for the man until he is restored back to full health.

The man that should have died life changes because a person refused to pass by and do nothing.

The message is clear in this story–we should stop walking by problems when we have the power to do something about the problems right before us.

We’ve got to deal with both the climate that produced the conditions that had the man on the side of the road, and we ourselves must also take time to lift up the people that life has broken down (by choosing to get closer to the issues).

Yesterday, I met a man sleeping on a bus stop bench. Tears fell down my face because as I gazed behind the man, there was an abandoned building right behind him.

Literally, the answer to his poverty and homelessness was gated and boarded up.

Although I am well aware of how some Real Estate properties have private owners, I still dream of conscious courageous capitalist(s) placing people on their agenda and even considering how they can invest in people and communities rather than waiting until communities are gentrified to make a profit.

As I walk to Memphis, TN to commemorate MLK’s last stance for MAP18, I’m reminded that we must stop walking by!

We must not be like the religious leaders in the parable I mentioned above that walks by without stopping to address the issues that plague us all.

This morning before I start DAY 3, I’m thinking about the words found in one of my favorite songs by Kindred The Family Soul. The song is called, “ALL MY PEOPLE.”

The hook says,

“I want all my people around me
Everybody living good
Everybody eatin good
Everybody chillin
I want all my people around me
Everybody eatin good
Everybody living good
I want for my brother what I want for myself.”

I believe what they are communicating in this song is what I feel in my heart at this very moment.

I want to see every single human have access to the resources that will make life a little more peaceful and stable for them.

I would like to see people who don’t have anything have the same quality of life that I have, and many others have.

But, in order for this to happen we must stop walking by!


10 DAYS AWAY – MAP18 Reflections

I’ve been up since 3AM reading words that chronicle the last few months of Martin Luther King’s Jr. life —
Before he was assassinated, he started to campaign about people in this country that were experiencing extreme poverty.
His agenda was to ensure that those on the margins of society were not forgotten.
King believed poverty was a Civil Rights issue, and so do I.
Every single day, I feel that same burning passion to ensure that this nation remembers the voiceless and invisible of our society.
In 10 Days, I’ll set out on another journey.
I’m literally walking from The Center For Civil & Human Rights to the Lorraine Motel (386 miles) to honor the 50th year of King’s passing, and to bring attention to an issue that he stood against—poverty.
I’m grateful for the historical partners we’ve had to endorse the #MAP18 campaign!
In the words of King,
“If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.”
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