Monday, January 5, 2009

Smiles, Soup and Service

Happy New Year!

That was the friendly greeting shared by our brothers and sisters downtown as they walked into the parking lot at St. Andrew's to see what we were serving this past Saturday.

God served up a sunny, but very cold day for us all on South Division. Good thing the weather isn't a factor for serving Christ!Our friends downtown need food and warm smiles and conversation no matter what the temperature is.

Nine of us drove down to GR this past weekend, which allowed more opportunities to converse. Many stories will go untold, but here are a couple.

After talking over hot cocoa, one gentleman, Thomas, asked me why I was doing this. I told him I am compelled because he's my brother in need, and I care about him.

He then said, "how do you know I'm your brother? What if I haven't accepted Christ as my Savior?"he asked.

"Whether you have or you haven't doesn't change the fact that we are brother and sister because God is OUR Father. So, I live like you are my brother because that is my belief. My actions don't depend on what you believe," I said back.

He shook my hand and said, "that's right! Thank you." We agreed to pray for each other.
He will be losing his current housing in two weeks, but is trusting the Lord.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I haven't and don't always treat those around me with the love of Christ. As a sinner, I fall way short. Just ask anyone in my family!

There is a freedom, though, that comes with faith - faith that God is the Loving Father of all and that Jesus Christ came for ALL, not just those who accepted Him. "But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

This faith compels us to act. Just as the young boy with a meager amount of bread and fish knew it was right for him to share with the other hungry people, we also know it is right. The hunger in our world goes far beyond the physical hunger, though there are millions outside this country dying every day due to starvation.

The boy with the loaves and fishes didn't know what Jesus would do with his offering. We don't fully know what Jesus will do either, but He will do something "far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20)

I also met a married couple this weekend who didn't fit the typical homeless picture. In fact, if you or I saw them walking down the street, we wouldn't suspect they were homeless or jobless, living in separate shelters and unable to find work with their various professional skills.

A, 53, has epilepsy, which contributed to her losing a job. Soon after, she lost her apartment. She has a regular volunteer job, which she enjoys and helps keep her skills fresh.

K lost his job in manufacturing and is staying at a men's shelter on Division. Imagine not being able to spend private time with your spouse except at the library or walking outside! They both said they do the "heartside shuffle" every day, which is a routine of going from here to there for meals and a place to stay warm.

They could get into a HUD apartment if they wanted to get help from the government beyond their SS (welfare, etc...), but they both want to try as best they can not to take that route.

Please pray for them to be accepted into the right apartment soon.

Pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance for us all to stay humble and move according to the His plan.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in our hearts, our minds and on our lips today and always. Amen!