The Most Honest Guy at the Homeless Shelter

Three cheers for those who don’t say what others want to hear

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.
2 min readMay 26, 2024
People seated at a homeless shelter in Phoenix
Thayne Tuason, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chapel is mandatory at the homeless shelter where I stay. There’s a service every night at 6, right after dinner.

Many nights, guest preachers from the community lead the worship, but on this evening Pastor J, the shelter’s lead pastor, stood on the stage.

“Let’s lead off by having a few people say what they’re thankful for today,” Pastor J said. “Who wants to start?”

A man raised his hand. “I’m thankful for the chicken and dumplings and green beans we had for dinner,” he said.

“Yes, yes,” said Pastor J. “Isn’t God good? And isn’t our kitchen staff good? Let’s give them a hand.”

“I’m thankful I’ll have a real bed to sleep on tonight,” said another man, “rather than a sidewalk.”

“Excellent,” replied Pastor J. “Who else?”

A man piped up, “I’m thankful that wherever I go, Jesus walks with me.”

“Isn’t that wonderful?” the pastor beamed. “One more. We’ve got time for one more.”

A man in the back stood up. “I’m thankful I had some cigarettes and a cold beer before I checked in here this afternoon.”



Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, homelessness, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher Twitter: @paulryburn