I just finished reading "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It is the beautiful story of two men, a modern-day slave and an international art dealer and how their world's collided. My dear Aunt Maria sent it to me because she knows we serve at a homeless outreach. Thanks Aunt Maria - I love any book that makes me cry! The wonderful thing is how the book has helped me be honest about my own journey.
We have the opportunity to interact with folks that find themselves on the streets several times a year at Shoreline East. I have to admit, to my own shame that the very first time I went, I was a mess. I wore a baseball cap and tied up all my hair so I wouldn't get head lice. I made everyone in the family shower immediately after getting home. But, I am slowly changing. The more I hear their stories and the more I reach out to touch them the less I judge and the more I love.
I would have never rolled down my window to give something to a guy on the street corner holding a sign. I was cynical and thought they just want money to buy alcohol. Maybe they do. But, then, I started to wonder, what if they recognize me from Shoreline East....the same girl who sang with them and prayed for them on Saturday can just turn her head and pretend she doesn't see them on Wednesday? What kind of God was she singing about anyway? Jesus help me! Now it's gradually getting harder to drive by without giving, I try to keep the van stocked with water bottles or granola bars.
My boys are in on this too - they keep their eyes out for folks to give to. They remember the granola bars when I don't. My husband blogged about this recently. They really are amazing. I still hover and watch them with my Momma eyes. I still don't feel safe. I have to watch the youngest most of all. He'll talk to anyone! One day he was off around the side of the building cracking jokes with a group of guys. As I stood there keeping watch, I had to wonder when was the last time they laughed with a child? I know he ministers to them more than I do.
I really don't want to be a person that can just turn away and walk right past a need. I want to be moved. I want to extend a hand and show a little kindness. Jesus said "This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice." The giving is not just about meeting the need. It's about me, about the softness of my heart. About being Christ-like, because Jesus extended his hands for me.
We go again November 29th and I'm so looking forward to it. I'm starting to see familiar faces. I hope they found a place to sleep tonight...its cold out. That makes me so sad. I think maybe we'll pick up a few blankets on our way downtown.