Daniel Kyle was born in the year 1961. He never knew his parents as he was placed into foster care from the time he was born and later into orphanages.
As an adult, he spent many years sleeping on the streets, smoking dope, spent some time in prison and some time in a hospital for the mentally ill and yet, at his funeral (he died on the 17th November 2013) the church was full of people from all walks of life who had come to say farewell to a man that had touched their lives in some way.
Daniel came into my life in the year 2007. He used to sit in the back row of our church and whilst on a church camp he confided in my husband, Steve, that he was far lonelier in the church than he had ever been whilst living on the streets. He would later acknowledge, how within the church body God blessed him. The church needed him and he needed the church. Steve invited him to come and have supper with us, so on the following Wednesday, Daniel arrived and for the next five years (apart from school holidays or when we were away) Daniel came and had supper with us every second Wednesday of the month.
Daniel became a part of our family. At the supper table, Daniel would tell us stories about his life and we and our three daughters would listen with fascination as he told us what it had been like growing up as an orphan in foster homes and various orphanages. He exposed us to a way of life that we had no knowledge of. A life in a foster home, a life in an orphanage, a life on the street, a life in prison, a life in a mental hospital, a life in a church as an outsider.
He once confided to us that we were the first family he had ever eaten a meal with – a mother, a father and children all sitting around a table together eating and talking. He was forty-six years old at the time.
He brought a new depth into our lives and we started to see the world from a different perspective. He had compassion for those less fortunate than him and he was an incredibly generous person. I will never view beggars in the same light again after having a conversation with him one night. I had shared how I did not know how to react to the beggars on the road especially the ones that swamped the car as soon as it stopped at a red traffic light. We have always been told not to give food or money as this just enables folks to stay on the street. Daniel told me that the only thing I had to do was give them their dignity. I had to acknowledge them as people, make eye contact, smile and ask them how they were doing.
It was a lesson that I will never forget – always give people their dignity.
One of the many people whose life Daniel impacted was that of his social worker, Michelle. She was his social worker for most of his adult life because every time Michelle was transferred to a different office or position she took Daniel’s file with her – she could not bear to lose touch with him and his humility and compassion had a huge effect on her life.
Daniel had a lovely sense of humour and the gift of being able to laugh at himself. He challenged us to think about and accept people from different backgrounds!
Daniel loved God and was not afraid to question God or get upset with Him and often felt deeply disappointed by God. But through all his fears and doubt he knew that God cared for him. A few months before he died he wrote:
“Why trust in the gold and riches of today, while tomorrow it may be gone? Why spend your time and wealth on food that does not satisfy the soul? Rather feed on wisdom, that fills your appetite for truth and life into Eternity, where there is no death nor sorrow nor pain! For life thrives on the unity of truth, grace, mercy and love for one to another.”
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17)