There are 6 other guys living in my house. We’ve had a variety of guys live with us– a Hungarian Ballet dancer, a student from Ireland, a lab worker from China, many grad students, even a couple undergrad students, and once a guy who had been living at the Salvation Army before finding a home with us.
A couple years ago I got a call from a guy named Chris who had seen my ad on Craigslist for a roomate. He explained that he had been in prison for a number of years, was now around 30, and was on the sex offender list. He had been having trouble finding a job and a place to rent to him, and felt like he needed to be around others to help him get a feel for life not behind bars.
Chris turned out to be a responsible roomate, and he adjusted well to life with us. He ended up bringing his little brother here from Iowa, to get him away from the small-town troublemakers he was starting to hang out with. Chris was a good older brother, making his brother think through budgeting, responsibility, and about how to keep out of trouble.
Chris had a temper sometimes, which had been his undoing originally when he went to prison. But we never experienced any of that. After having lived with us for over a year, Chris asked if he could rent one of my houses, and I did let him. He’s been there over a year, with his brother also living there with him.
Chris buys and sells cars– thats how he makes his living. So that green house always had a bunch of cars on the lot. He had been talking to me a lot about buying it, because he loves that house. Its a huge 4000 sq foot place.
Last week I got a call from the Sheriffs office that they had a warrant for Chris and were looking to get into the house where he lived, and they didn’t want to break down the door. Evidently he had made some threats to his girlfriend who is pregnant by Chris. She had told him he would never get to see his son again, and he had said some things he shouldnt have on her voicemail. Given his background, this was serious stuff and she filed charges and the sheriff went looking for him.
I was gone Thursday, the day that a swat team and a bunch of police swarmed on the green house looking for Chris. They broke in the back door. He wasn’t there.
I got back from Milwaukee Sunday night and got a call from Chris’ little brother, asking if it’d be OK if he still kept renting the house, even though Chris wouldn’t be around. I said that’d be fine. He said Chris was gone for now, in Iowa.
Then a half hour later Chris called, from a blocked number. He wanted to make sure that his brother could still stay there at the house. He said he was planning to turn himself in, soon. He also said he would give me his number, but didn’t want me to have to have that info and possibly lie to the police to protect him (which I appreciated). He also asked if I knew a lawyer that could help him, because he said he was fearful that he could possibly get 50 years for his behavior, given his previous record. Last, he asked if I would be willing to be a character witness for him if he did stand trial. I told him I would.
I like Chris. He certainly has made some dumb choices here and there, and he lets his temper get the best of him at times. But I have seen him be very disciplined with himself and seen him love his brother and others in a very fatherly kind way.
When Chris first came to me and told me his story there were a lot of risks we were taking– an ex con, whose living in our house would put our house on the sex registry list– and just the general unknowing of having someone like that in your house. But we felt called to have him stay with us, and it worked well. I hope that he will turn himself in soon, and that the judge will have mercy on him. Its complicated to get involved in the lives of those who really need our help, but its definitely worth it.
May God have mercy on us all, especially Chris.