Brother Sean Rogers
My friend Brother Sean Rogers was a missionary to the homeless, the lost, and disenfranchised. He lived in the margins of society to serve those in the margins of society. He lived as a beggar, to serve those in greater need than himself.
Here's the story of how we came together...
Somewhere out of the blue around 2007, I got a voicemail from a guy that called himself Brother Sean Rogers. He asked me to come play a benefit at a place called the Old Tucker Fountain in Tucker GA to support his ministry.
I brought my biggest fans and played two sets of my favorite songs to pray with. We all ate the BBQ and ice cream sandwiches and had a wonderful evening. I met Sean in person for the first time that night.
As time went by, I learned a great deal from him. He helped me grow in my capacity to love and see the homeless for the beautiful people they are. He was a pest. He was relentless. He got under my skin. He was exhausting. He was a great friend. Most importantly, I watched him love everyone he met. Everyone. Sean never missed an opportunity to look someone in the eye, tell them that he loved them and that they mattered to him. That was his thing. He's look you right in the eye and say "I love you, and you matter to me..."
Because of how my mind works, I would always want to dialogue with Sean about his experience with people that were dealing with homelessness and try to understand the "how" of what led these amazing people to the unfortunate circumstances they were living in. He would always (strongly) emphasize that it didn't make any difference. He was absolutely right. As he and I would go around and visit the people he served, he was always hell bent on making sure that I understood that regardless of what those circumstances were, that it really and truly didn't matter because they were still people. Children of God.
I guess Sean knew that it can be easy to sit in our homes, drive by in our cars, and walk by on the way to dinner and think of all kinds of "bad choices" that people may have made, or be making, to land them in that situation. Even if they made bad choices, that doesn't change their worth. Even if they were still choosing terrible things, it doesn't affect their value, dignity or who they are as people. If they smell, or are hurt, or are begging, we need to see that they are people. If they are hungry, drunk, angry, or sick, they are a person first.
In the end, Sean is right. It never, ever mattered how anyone got there. What mattered was the person. What matters is looking people in the eye and telling them that they are loved and that they matter. What matters is recognizing Christ in people. Sean introduced me to a lot of people that I likely would never have met otherwise, and I am grateful for that. Over conversations and sharing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I saw the eyes of Jesus in the people we met. We brought them cheap sandwiches, and they gave us a small glimpse of heaven. Thank God for my stubborn, kind, and goofy friend Sean. If you could, please throw up a quick prayer for him, and the people he served. Recognize the dignity in everyone, and let people know that you love them, and that they matter.
in 2012, Sean ended up getting very sick. In the final days of his life, I grabbed my guitar and went to see him in the part of the ICU where you have to get all dressed up in a gown/gloves, etc. I sang some worship songs over him, and brought him a banner that the teens from our middle school ministry made for him. In his hospital room, there was a crucifix from the priests at Christ the King. Otherwise, there was nothing except the banner I arrived with. Sean wasn't responsive during my visit, but I am certain he knew I was there. He passed peacefully just a few days later on October 7th, 2012. My Pastor Father Murphy encouraged me to play the songs Sean wanted at his funeral at a Holy Trinity Mass, and that is just what we did.
Sean gave his life in service to the poor.
Sean lived the Gospel of Jesus. He lived it.
Thank you Sean for all you did to serve the homeless, and for all you did to expand my capacity to love, and for making sure that I knew I was loved, and that I mattered.
I love you Sean. You still matter to me.