(Recently Latafale Auva’a was a member of the New Zealand team competing at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood. While Latafale excelled and won two gold medals; one silver and three bronze - in my (Geoff New) view - her real World Championship performance was on the streets of Los Angeles. Here is Matthew 25:31-46 being played out. Wonderful!)

    I’ve walked passed tonnes of homeless people in L.A this week. Usually I sympathise whilst avoiding the eye contact, then within a fleeting moment I snap back into my own reality, and care not for their’s. But today was different. Today after watching some beautiful audition performances I freaked out about not having jewelry to go with my singing outfit. So I dashed down the road, passed at least 4 homeless people and to no avail and sore feet found nothing and started heading back to the hotel.

    On my way back, there was a black homeless man, standing by the crossing and my eyes immediately diverted to his sign which said “John 3:16” God Bless You. As usual, I sympathised but was bewildered to see Scripture staring me in the face. I avoided eye contact and kept up with the crowd and whilst passing I caught a bit of what he was saying to people “Food or water…” and without fail he continued to say “God Bless You” to every-single person that walked passed him ignorantly. Even a blessing to me. I walked about 50 meters and was forced to stop. For about 10 minutes I just stared at him; now the size of the spot down the road, The $10 I had in my wallet seemed to burn on my conscious. I found myself torn between walking on, and actually wanting to talk to him.

    In the end, I walked back 50 meters and stood in front of him. He gave me a smile, and I said rather directly “What is your name?” He told me with a bit of humour, “Now if I tell you, will I get a reward?” “Maybe” I replied. Now to my recollection I actually completely forgot his name I was so nervous, but I started conversing with him. Why are you here? How long have you been homeless? Do you know what the verse you have written means? His conversation was fluent and extremely intelligible to my surprise. A man with soft stamina - I was shocked to find out he had been educated and graduated from university with a degree in public relations. Had invested shares in finance which crashed and had made a lot of bad decisions which led him to the place he was now. Homeless. For 9 months. He is given $240 a MONTH to survive off by the government, A quarter of that goes to his 15 year old daughter for support. Now, unless he has mastered the art of story-telling like no other homeless person in the world, I was really affected by his story.

    The whole time he never asked me for money regardless of the many questions I directed at him to try and decipher if he was telling me the truth. We talked a bit about faith and what it was like to have nothing. I asked him to recite to me John 3:16, and nearly teared up when he did. Then he started sharing with me about his new found faith in God. I left $10 less but nothing can put a price on sharing about Jesus. If he was a phoney he was a very good one and deserved the cash for putting on quite a show. And if he wasn’t; I pray that God blesses him for all the blessings people do not know he gives to them for a bit of kindness.

    Latafale Auva'a
    Latafale Auva’a