“Good morning chief!” Gary was greeted when he came through the line this morning. I told him he reminded me of the Crying Indian in the Keep America Beautiful ads that ran in the late 70’s. Chief said “I met Iron Eyes Cody at a pow wow”. How interesting I thought. I asked chief if I could interview him and he agreed. Here is a cleaned up transcript of our conversation.
Gary explains that he moved from California and that is what brought him to Austin. When asked the question, why are you homeless, his answer was “I don’t know”. Chief explains his ex-wife lives in a gated community in Leander. His daughter is married to a developer and also lives in the Austin area. Chief says a lot of the reason he is homeless is because of Christianity. I never knew about homelessness until I became homeless. Chief believes God is showing him a different side of life. Previously he only cared about “Money, cars, sex and having a good time”. During this time he says he never thought about God. He was aware of the existence of God but never thought about Him. “I went to a Catholic high school so I knew there was a God, a Jesus and a Holy Spirit but not once did I think about Him.” Chief says. When asked how this changed, he explained God clunked me in the head! He brought me to my knees after a bad situation. The clunk happened while being housed by a union rescue mission in LA. There was a gang he was supposed to testify against, that wanted him silenced. He was hidden in a hotel suite where he found a bible in the bedside table. He opened the bible to 1 Samuel 19 and read the first 2 verses and soon was hooked: 1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David 2 and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there.
He saw this as God telling him that this is what is happening to you. Chief explained that the intent of Union rescue was to get him out of the LA area and send him to San Francisco. Somehow Carl Fielstra, from Vista CA, got involved. Carl was heading a Christian ranch in Vista CA. This is where Chief’s Christianity really strengthened. One day at church, Chief told his fellow parishioners “Nothing is happening for me here”. One friend asked him, “Gary, where would you like to go?” After a brief hesitation Chief said … “Austin”. That was about a year ago. He had already been in Austin because he had visited his ex-wife and daughter, so he knew this was the best place for him. Now debt free but jobless, Chief finds work when he can and mainly stays at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). Chief has had 3 steady sales jobs in the past year but is currently unemployed and on the streets. Chief is a crowd favorite and we really appreciate his cooperation on telling us his story.
PS: Keep praying for Andy.