UPDATED :: pawn shop shimmy: how a local homeless couple experienced extraordinary act of kindness & mercy

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Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

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UPDATED :: pawn shop shimmy: how a local homeless couple experienced extraordinary act of kindness & mercy

UPDATE :: i assumed this story would get a lot of response, but even i was surprised at the overwhelming reaction (it is now my most read post of 2011). i appreciate the reposts, retweets and other things that start with ‘re-‘… i wanted to offer an update and unfortunately, the update is much less heartwarming than the original story.

as of yesterday afternoon—ironically just hours after posting the story—my friends were kicked out of the house. i’m still not too sure of all the details, but it seems the woman had nothing to do with it. it was out of her control. my understanding is that she is the manager/caretaker of the house (and has lived there for quite some time) and a family member is the actual owner. once the owner found out, he kicked them out.

so, they’re back on the streets.

given the immense response, i thought i’d put it out there to see if anyone knew of any alternative housing situations for my friends. they need to stay in the downtown area if possible because they don’t have a vehicle. it’s just the 2 of them, so it wouldn’t need to be much.

if you have anything or know of anything, please contact me and i can offer some more information. you can leave a comment or email me at ryan [at] beingryanbyrd [dot] com. thanks in advance!

starting a church has been the hardest thing i’ve ever done. i think about quitting regularly. i really do.


then there’s those moments and stories and experiences and people that make it all worth it.

and this is one of those stories. and one of those people.

our church has really picked up steam since moving to our current building. there’s a lot of factors, but i think the biggest thing has been foot traffic from the homeless community. there have been weeks where we have nearly as many homeless people as we have our “regulars” (in fact, now many of those “homeless people” are our “regulars”). i suspect that that ratio will continue to sway more to homeless people. it’s been a great experience and has changed our dynamic significantly.

as we’ve continued to become friends with people coming off the street, we’ve heard all kinds of stories, ranging from heartbreaking to amazing to hilarious to depressing and all points in between.

i heard one the other day that was simply amazing.

**editorial note: i’m cleaning up the story that my friends conveyed to me. so instead of writing “and then she was like [insert quote]”, i’m simply offering the story as “real” dialogue. i’m not, though, changing or embellishing any of the details of the story as conveyed to me.**

we have a married couple (who have become a regular part of our church community) who have been on the streets for about 4 months. they recently had to move out of the abandoned house they were living in and hit the streets to find something else. within a day or so, they found another house that had been abandoned for quite awhile, so they moved in.

inside the house, there were a number of items left behind by the last tenant that had a considerable value (relative to having nothing). they decided to take these things to a local pawn shop and cash in. in the end, they got a couple hundred bucks from a beatles album, some swords and a few other things.

**editorial note: the morality of this is neither here nor there. there’s a lot of different factors involved. in this case, i’m merely presenting the facts of the story.**

fast forward a couple days.

they were walking back to “their” house one evening and as they rounded the corner of their block, they saw a car pulled up in front of their house and a woman was entering the front door. they nervously decided to sit across the street to observe the situation. almost immediately, the woman began looking their direction and they grew more and more anxious as she went back and forth, moving items from inside the house into her vehicle.

she finally locked the door and proceeded to her vehicle. instead of getting in her vehicle, though, she paused and headed their direction. internally the panicked, knowing that it would be difficult to maneuver out of this predicament.

“you’re the ones living in my house, right?”

they nodded, waiting for the impending punishment.

“and you sold my stuff to a pawn shop, right?” they, again, nodded. “well, i work at that pawn shop.”

what were the odds!? the woman whose house they just happened to pick out was the same person who worked at the one random pawn shop they just happened to choose (they almost went to another shop just down the street)!

they began to apologize, saying that they thought it was completely abandoned.

she informed them that she showed up at the shop just minutes after they left, noticing her belongings on the counter. she was informed that a man and woman just sold them and immediately looked at the security footage to identify them. she then filed a police report, handing over the security footage.

they knew they were in for it. they had visions of jail and losing everything they were trying to work toward.

but then the lady changed the story.

“i’ll tell you what. i’ve got an extra key to my house. you can have it. if you agree to pay back the pawn shop for the items you stole, i’ll let you live in my house. and if you promise to look for jobs. in fact, i’ve got a friend i can put you in contact with who probably has an opening or two.”

they were stunned. and amazed. and shocked. and thankful.

in the matters of moments, they went from preparing to have the cops come pick them up and be charged with trespassing, breaking and entering, theft and who knows what other charges (which the woman dropped) to having a house to legally live in and possible full-time work. they’re now making arrangements to pay back the pawn shop over the course of the next couple months and find jobs.

ultimately, they’ve experienced one of the most extraordinary acts of kindness and mercy that both they and i have ever heard. it’s truly an extraordinary story that is completely backwards of everything that seems “right” or “fair” or “just”.

i don’t know who this woman is and i suspect there’s more to the story, but i’m going to do some more investigating. i honestly want to personally thank this woman. my friends might just squander away this opportunity or do the wrong thing. that is entirely possible.


she might be their jesus, who has created a turning point in their life. maybe this is what they needed to get their feet back underneath them. maybe it’s the thing that is their salvation.

i’ll update as the story develops. in the meantime, let’s all look for opportunities to be this woman to someone else. maybe we don’t have a house, but we might have a couple dollars or some leftover pizza at lunch or a friendly handshake. in the end, we might merely be a person with a couple bucks, but we might be the salvation someone is desperately looking for.