“C’mon Pete we have to walk a little faster or we’re going to be late for school.” Pete’s ten-year-old older sister said.
“It’s just my legs won’t go fast Mary.” Five-year-old Pete whined.
“If you don’t walk faster I am walking on without you. Do you want to go all alone?” She said.
“Mommy said you can’t leave me because I’m too young.” He reminded her as they walked down the poverty-stricken street.
Pete reaches in his right pocket and starts playfully jiggling around a red jelly bean.
“If you don’t walk faster I will leave you here I promise you that!” Mary said angrily now.
They continued to walk the long trek to school while Pete tried to speed up his steps. He splashes his running shoes in a big puddle of water.
“Mary my Sunday school teacher said God wants us to be nice to people. So you have to be nice to me okay?” He said with his big blue eyes looking up at her.
“Okay, Pete I will try but keep walking faster. If you don’t I’ll hold your hand all the way there.”
“I don’t like holding your hand it makes my hand sweat.”
“Then walk quickly and don’t talk just walk.” She ordered.
Silence took over the remainder of the next few minutes. Mary continued to walk enjoying a moment of silence.
“Pete we’re almost there. We’ll get there before the bell rings,” she said.
Oh no! Where’s Pete?
She couldn’t believe he disappeared. Pete was there just a few minutes ago.
“Pete! Where did you go? Last time I looked you were right here!” She called out for her brother to appear.
No Pete. He didn’t pop out from behind a bush or respond to her calling him. It was as if he just vanished.
She stood for a few seconds. Mary’s mind raced as she ran toward the school to tell someone.
Meanwhile, little Pete was on a journey of his own. He saw a cute kitten a few minutes ago and stopped to pet it. As he reached down to pet the kitten it ran up the street a little. As it darted behind a bush Pete chased it. He found it under the bush with the cutest eyes staring back at him.
“Hi, little kitty you are so cute. Do you want to come to school with me?” He said sweetly as he picked up the kitten.
Pete took his backpack off his shoulders and opened it up so he could place the little baby kitten in it. Excited to show all his friends and his sister what he found. Once the kitten was inside he closed it up. Then he put the backpack over his shoulders.
Walking now toward the school he realized Mary was nowhere in sight.
“You okay back there kitty?” he asked.
He walked thinking he would see his sister somewhere soon on the way.
Back at the school, Mary was in a frenzy not knowing where Pete was. Mrs. Hayward, the school secretary said they would call her mother.
“But my mom will be so mad at me because I lost my brother.” She said with a worried look on her face.
“ It isn’t your fault Mary. Just sit here for a few minutes.” Reassuring her as she picked up the phone to call their Mother.
Pete realized he was now lost. He began to look for someone he could ask for help. He prayed to God to help him find his way.
“What are you doing out on the streets all alone boy?” A gruff voice said from behind him.
At the sound of the man’s voice behind him, Pete turned around. He looked up at a tall older man wearing torn clothes. The man had a long white beard.
“Son, you look lost. My name is Ben. What’s your name?”
“Pete. Can you help me find my school? I lost my sister and myself too. I found a kitten and its lost too. That’s how I got lost. I chased it then put it in my backpack.” Pete said trying not to cry.
“I can probably help you find your school. Did you say you a kitten in your backpack?” The man asked Pete.
“Yes, would you like to see it? It’s really cute and little.” Pete asked.
Pete took off his backpack and opened it up but the kitten was gone.
All he could do was cry now. He was lost and scared and couldn’t find his sister. Now the kitten he was going to take to school was gone!
“I’m scared!” Pete cried as he looked hopelessly up at the man.
“It’s okay to be scared I have been afraid lots of times. I’ve been lost just like you and spent many nights hungry. I wish I had something to give you but I don’t have anything. I’m just a poor homeless man. Let’s go try to find your school and your sister. Maybe kitten will find you again.”
“What is a homeless man?” Pete asked curiously.
“I have no home to live in. No bed to sleep in. No money to buy food or clothing.” The man said.
“At my church, we give things to people who have nothing. Maybe you should come to my church and get some stuff. They can help you there. Maybe they’ll even give you a home. Sometimes we eat at church. Maybe they can feed you. They have a plate we put money in and there is always a lot of money in it. Maybe they will give you some money.” Pete said.
“God gave up on me years ago and so did people. I don’t think your church wants to see someone like me.” The man said sadly. Hope and faith had vanished from his life years ago.
“They would be nice to you and they’ll even give you new clothes. The ones you’re wearing aren’t good. You might get cold with all those holes in your clothes.”
“Pete! Where have you been?” A familiar voice yelled from across the street.
Pete looked over and saw his mom running toward him. Taking his knapsack off his back he put it on the ground. Then he opened it up reaching his hand in to grab his lunch.
“Here is my lunch I want you to have it so you aren’t hungry anymore. Jesus will make more just like he did with the bread in the Bible. Then you will always have something to eat. Bye and thanks for helping me.” Pete said as he handed the old man his lunch.
He ran over to his mother.
“Who is that man Pete? I told you to not ever talk to strangers.” His mom said as they walked across the street toward her car.
“Mom he has no home. He was nice to me. He’s lost just like me and hungry so I gave him my lunch.” Pete said.
“I am so glad you’re okay Pete and it was nice of you to give the man your lunch. I just don’t want you talking to strangers.” Pete’s mom said touched by her son’s compassion for the homeless man.
“Mom I forgot to give him something,” Pete said. Then he walked over to the man who was sitting on the curb eating the lunch he gave him.
“I want you to have this too. It’s my special red jelly bean. Every time I remember a Bible verse my mom gives me a jelly bean. This morning I got a red one. Don’t eat it just look at it every day so you can remember God loves you. He’ll get you new clothes and a home too!”
“Thanks, boy. Tell your mom she makes a good lunch.”
Two weeks later…
The same man walked into a local church carrying in his pocket the red jelly bean Pete gave him. He would never forget the cute and kind little boy he met on street. Pete gave him a glimmer of hope beyond his pain.
Every time he looked at the red jelly bean he thought of Pete and God’s love for him. For the first time, he had a hope for a better tomorrow.
“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”