Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Confound The Wise


But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; -1 Corinthians 1:27

John Breaux was known in the northern Denver area as the guy who rode around on his bicycle picking up trash. People often thought he was homeless because of his worn out shoes, shaggy beard and missing teeth, but he always gave away what people handed him. Those who knew John loved him. He earned the nickname "Jesus" partially because of his long beard, but mostly because of his warm generosity and kindness to everybody he met.

The communities of Lafayette and Louisville, Colorado were shocked by news of John Breaux's death on January 30. Breaux was hit and killed by a car driven by a woman with dementia. A makeshift memorial was set up at the spot of his death, and jars were placed in restaurants and stores all around town to collect money in order to help Breaux's family with his burial expenses. Stories of Breaux's acts of kindness sprouted from people who talked about how he'd touched them by his selfless life. His big, welcoming smile cheered the daily lives of many. He'd carried groceries for people, and sometimes he bought food for them using the money he'd collected from recycling aluminum cans.

"I've never seen the eyes of an angel, but I bet they look like that," said Rev. Jim Burgen, while looking at a picture of Breaux. "We will not be the same, because he changed us forever."

An estimated 2000 people attended Breaux's memorial service. "You just don't know the impact that one life can have on the community," said Rick Williamson, an Erie resident who knew Breaux from church. If a man's wealth were measured by his friends, Williamson said, "I'd say John died pretty wealthy — wealthier than I'll ever be."

According to his aunt, Breaux loved bike-riding, bowling, and Jesus. Breaux had been diagnosed with schizophrenia early in life. When his parents died, he moved with his brother to Colorado, where he completely gave up all his medications. From that point on, his brother said, he just "blossomed." Perhaps he was healed. Perhaps he was misdiagnosed, or had a mild case. Whatever the case, Breaux lived with his brother's family and spent his days loving his neighbors.

According to columnist Dylan Otto Krider:

"Everyone mentioned his big smile… The truth is, he was everywhere, and never seemed to sleep. Then when he died, literally the entire community got the wind knocked out of them. A good number of the people I interviewed broke down crying. All of them had a story about some good dead Breaux did, and when I went to his memorial, thousands showed up to pay respect to the man."

In our world, the most "successful" people are those featured in People or Fortune magazines. They have money; they have looks; they have hot careers. Yet, many of the rich and famous have tragic personal lives filled with drugs and adultery and misery. If more humans were able to look into the peaceful, cheerful life of a man with grungy shoes and see the love of Jesus moving through him to other people, people in the world might change their definition of success.

Until his death, few people outside of Colorado had heard of John Breaux. Yet, he now serves as an inspiration to all of us. We don't have to win the Lottery to be a blessing to the people around us; we merely need to take what has already been given us, and make the most of it with a heart open to the Spirit's leading.

Who was John Breaux? One community member answered, "Just a guy who spent his day making Louisville and Lafayette a better place. Seriously."

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14, 16

Related Links:

Mourners: Breaux 'Changed Us Forever' - ColoradoDaily
The Sad, Inspiring Case of John Breaux - Underground Examiner
The Manifesto of our King:The Sermon on the Mount - Koinonia House

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