While driving on Saturday afternoon, I noticed a van parked in a driveway on the right side of the road. The van's rear driver's side door was ajar, and next to the van was a person lying on the ground. It looked like a man, and he was not moving. I slowed down and tried to assess his condition with a quick glance. I wasn't exactly able to do an extensive visual triage while zooming past at 40-some MPH, so I basically had no more information than I did upon my first glimpse. He was making no signal of distress, but I couldn't imagine why he would be there by choice.
Questions started pouring into my mind - Is he hurt? Is he conscious? Is he alive? How long has he been there? Hasn't anyone else noticed him? Why hasn't anyone stopped to help him?
I looked for a place to turn around, and decided that if he was still on the ground when I got back to him, I was going to stop and help.
The questions kept coming - Maybe someone did stop, and he told them to leave because...I don't know...because he likes lying on the ground on rough asphalt? It sure didn't look like he was working on his car. He must be hurt. Why else would he be there? Could he be some psycho trying to trap someone by looking injured? I don't think so - Why would he do that on such a busy street? I can't just leave him there.
I turned the car around, and saw that the man had not moved. I pulled onto a side-street walked over to the man. As I approached, I could see that he was, indeed, hurt. His head was bleeding. He was frail, and the appearance of his face and body indicated that he had some sort of physical disability. As I came to his side I asked if he was alright, and what I could do to help him. My heart broke for him - lying alone on the ground, unable to get up, bleeding.
I touched his shoulder gently and said "I'm so sorry. You look hurt. How can I help you? What do you need? Do you need me to call an ambulance?" I could not tell how badly he was injured, but he was responsive.
He spoke softly, so I had to ask him to repeat himself. He said "The house. Please get someone from the house."
I asked him if he would be all right if I left him there while I ran to the door. He responded with a weak "Yes."
As I ran to the door, I prayed silent, urgent prayers. I was obviously concerned for this man's physical well-being; but even more than the physical injuries he sustained, I was wounded by the pain and loneliness that I saw as I looked deep into his eyes. I longed to just pray with him and tell him of the hope of the Cross. But in the moment, I knew he was probably more immediately concerned with getting up off the pavement and into the arms of people he knew and loved.
I knocked and called "Hello?"
I heard rustling inside. "Who is it?" (Were they were asking me, or talking to each other while looking out the open window?)
I spoke through the door - "There's a man in your driveway..."
I heard a female voice respond, "Oh, yes, I know," as the door opened to reveal a young woman, maybe in her late teens or early twenties. Her attire was... Middle Eastern? Indian? She appeared to be either Muslim or Hindu, based on her flowing garments and modest headscarf. My ignorance prevented me from a more accurate assessment, and the tension of the situation precluded any extraneous conversation.
They knew he was there in the driveway, but surely they didn't know...
"...he's hurt," I continued. "He fell and hit his head..."
A look of concern clouded her countenance as she began to make her exit through the doorway. "What? Are you kidding me?"
"No, he's bleeding. He needs help. He asked me to come get someone..."
She gasped a little as she bounded out the door and passed me in her haste.
Two young boys followed behind me as quickly we made our way down the path, toward the driveway.
The young woman reached the man's side just before me, and called to the boys, as she knelt beside him. "Get the wheelchair from inside!"
The man raised up a little and began to weep softly as she drew close. They spoke to each other rapidly, in a language I did not understand. As he leaned his torso against her, I could see blood on the ground from his side, as well as his head.
I was searching for words. "I'm so sorry. What can I do? I wish I could do more to help. I'm so sorry."
The young woman said apologetically "No, it's fine. Thank you so much. We'll get my mother. It'll be fine. Thank you."
I stood awkwardly for a moment as the boys rushed back with the wheelchair. The woman said again "It's ok. Thank you." In a tone that felt like she was asking me to leave. Not out of ungratefulness or anger, but...something else. A sense of responsibility for the accident, perhaps? Embarrassment that they didn't know he was lying there injured? In any case, I could feel that they no longer considered my presence helpful. I reluctantly made my way toward my car as they gingerly began to help the man get up.
That is the moment when my heart was torn in two. OH, how I wanted to stay. When I stopped, what I wanted to do the most was to pray for the man. Not just to pray a private prayer between myself and God, but to communicate something of God's love to him in a clear, tangible way. I wanted him to know that God loved him. That is why I turned around my car and came back. Yes, I wanted him up off the ground. But the deepest ache in my heart was that he would feel a touch from the Savior. I wanted to speak the words of Jesus over him. But in that moment, with their hurried voices in the background, I felt like an intrusion into a private moment of family crisis.
Should I have stayed? Should I have asked to pray silently beside them until the man was in the house? Should I have spoken and prayed boldly about the healing power of Jesus, even if such words would have been offensive and jarring in the midst of their pain? These are the questions that I carried as I began to drive away, and that linger still.