it's a horrible cycle. but i get it now. it makes me uncomfortable because it's supposed to. because it's a fellow human. someone who isn't that much different than me. someone who also has a family, and friends, and a community, and someone who, just like me, needs help.
i don't always know how they got there. maybe it IS drugs. maybe it IS alcohol. maybe they made a series of bad choices that led them to forfeit their home and car and even family. or maybe they are mentally handicapped. or maybe they just had some bad things happen to them. abuse. neglect. no one to guide their steps and help them or show them where the resources are. none of these things make them any less of a person. we ALL have junk. our junk just manifests itself in different ways. and i am no better than any other. i'm just not.
"but in humility consider others better than yourselves. each of you should not look to your own interest, but also to the interest of others." (philippians 2)
two things happened to me this morning that rocked my world.
maybe i should say three, because i was on my way to rework in the first place, to pray and read with my friend austin and whoever else might happen to be there. damion was there. another guy who left shortly thereafter. then two more showed up...a man we affectionately call 'bones' and another who i refer to as 'allison's uncle.' (my friend works with him at rework, and he tells everyone he's her uncle, haha. kind of awesome.)
on the way, i saw a man at the stop light with a sign asking for work. something a friend challenged me on awhile back is to make eye contact and smile. making eye contact with someone, especially a homeless person, promotes dignity. something they have usually lost. i made eye contact, i smiled. i was genuinely sad for this man, and suddently, a man driving the van in front of me, threw a dollar on the ground and then wickedly laughed in this man's face, making him stoop down to the ground to pick it up.
it made me want to throw up.
the second thing that happened this morning, was the man who joined us briefly at rework, i found out, had saved up money to buy a car. he bought a van from a man he didn't know, who didn't give him, or fess up to the spare set of keys he had. our friend left the title in the car, after giving $800 cash for this vehicle, and the original owner, a few days later, came and picked up the van. with the title in it. never to be seen again.
this also made me want to throw up.
word gets around quickly in the homeless community. they had learned it wasn't the first time the owner of the van had pulled this trick. and you know what? when you are homeless, you have no leverage with this kind of thing. you just have to take it. because you don't have the resources to fight. you don't have a contract or any kind of legal help, to say that you did hand over all of your money for a purchase. you have no options.
this morning we read out of matthew 28. it's the last chapter of the book, where Jesus tells us to go and make disciples. to baptize the nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that He will be with us forever. my response as a believer in Jesus, goes back to this picture of baptism.
i was baptised when i was 22 years old, by my friend john strappazon. he was a great mentor and pastor and friend. i know from experience, that my walk with God changed after that day. when you are baptised. you are dunked backwards, to symbolize that we are, 'buried with Christ', and then raised up out of the water to show that we are then, 'raised with Christ to walk in a new life." as a follower of Jesus, i am raised in Him, just like we celebrated yesterday, in a new life. and every day forward. raised with Christ. alive with Christ. on mission, living life (same thing btw), WITH Christ.
as a believer who is surrounded by a community of people who are involuntarily homeless, Jesus teaches me in matthew 28 that i am to go and baptise them. to show them, encourage them, counsel them, WALK WITH THEM, into new life. sure, we can give handouts, and food, and help (and we will in some cases), but at the end of the day, if we don't show them what it's like to walk in new life, with Christ, it is all in vain.
i don't know what the future looks like around this for me. a lot of times i try to say things like, 'oh, i don't have a heart for the homeless population.' but that's garbage. because then i'm essentialy saying, 'oh, i don't have a heart for people.' and well, maybe my nature makes this true, but Jesus makes this new and He gives me a heart of love.
1 peter 1 says, now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart."
from the heart.
i feel sucker punched this morning, and i won't lie, there's a lot i don't want to let go of. i mean, aren't there other people able to take care of this? better qualified? or maybe that just have time? really, i'm just asking, can't someone do this so i don't have to?
no, i'm pretty sure i have responsibility.
i know going forward, the hubs and i, along with our sg, have a response to this that's slowly coming 'round. we are organising our garage to be equipped with stuff people might need. one of the awesome things happening at our church and rework, is that our homeless friends are now being able to transition into low income housing. and they need things like bed linens, cookware, blankets, etc. and we have a garage full of goods just waiting for them.
but there's a response in the everyday, too. continuing to make eye contact. and giving encouragement, whether it may be just a smile. or it may be a bottle of water i have in my car. or just a, 'hey what's up'. and really, to do this without judging. because there's always a side to the story that we don't know.
my life has been totally ruined today, for the betterment of my heart and life. and i am so grateful.
if you want to join me, come to training next week at rework. and let's learn about this together. here's a super video that will make you cry your face off, but you'll be glad about it.
thanks for reading.