The world needs more Vans

An essay about Mike's best friend and a video not to miss

The world needs more Vans. In this short personal write-up, Mike Jones shares about the transforming presence of one man (Van) in his life.

Reading it made me think.

The temptation is to see a social problem—homelessness, inequality—and be overwhelmed by the impossible structural magnitude of it all.

But restoration and justice can happen in the tiniest of steps, encounter-by-encounter. You don’t have to carry the burden of shifting an entire community or issue when there is a single person in front of you needing love.

It is in those singular moments and relationships, which are often small and gritty and require sacrifice, that hope can be transferred or restored.

So start as small as possible.

Today’s social change to-do list doesn’t need to be longer than a single item that is done in love. One phone call. One conversation. One detour. One person.

Matt Shaw

My Best Friend

By Mike Jones

This is an appreciation.

I have a life-long friend who owns a business in Wilson, NC. He has been the best friend, big brother and role model that I never had when I was growing up.

I met Van when I was 18 and in jail. He was a bail bondsman, and he would come in and out of the jail all day. I would ask him for reading material, and he would give it to me. I think he saw potential in me because he noticed how fast I was reading the newspapers and magazines. 

On the night of Christmas Eve, the jailor opened my door and told me to get dressed because I was leaving. I had no idea how this was happening because I didn’t have any family or friends who would help me. When I came out of the jail, Van was waiting for me. I got in his car, and he asked me where my home was. I told him I didn’t have one. He took me to his house and has been my best friend for the last 11 years. 

Van has saved and helped me in so many situations, and not just financially. He introduced me to his family, friends, and they all accept me like I am family.

Without Van, I would probably be dead or in prison right now.


“Just because I’m homeless, that doesn’t mean I stop caring for myself.”

In this short conversation, Gerald talks about the importance of keeping clean and retaining his dignity. From Invisible People.