She walked down the wide, newly paved over driveway into the church parking lot. It was Saturday morning kinda early. Just a nip in the air.
Fall leaves scattered around. Quiet.
No other people. Only a few dozen cars, in that vast empty parking lot.
She struggled pulling her overloaded cart. All of her belongings were on it. Tightly secured with bungee cords so everything stayed in place. She wore layers of mismatched clothes. Loose and well-worn slippers were her shoes.
She was an older lady. Alone. Frail.
I asked her if she needed help. Tears streamed down her face and in broken English she pointed down and said she needed some shoes. And money.
Her name was Victoria. I knew she was homeless just by looking at her.
It was No Secret.
I wasn’t sure what to do, because I was on a hike/jog and had nothing with me.
But I knew someone at the church could help.
Because that’s what churches do.
The first person I saw, I explained the situation and asked for a translator.
Within 15 minutes, we were able to learn her story. She had been living on the street for over a month. She had stayed at some shelters.
But that day she had nowhere to go.
The people at the church fed her. They tried to place her in a shelter.
They allowed her to sit indoors by the fireplace to rest. That night the church had a Spanish speaking service that Victoria attended. And Victoria got to eat again.
They made sure that Victoria had a safe place to sleep that night.
Thanks to the people that make up the body of Christ.
That church doesn’t know it, but they already have a ministry to the homeless.
Forgive us God that We the Church sometimes see the homeless and yet We don’t even know their names, much less their stories.
Forgive us God that We the Church like our Ministries to be tightly secured with bungee cords, so everything stays in place. And in that process We tend to leave out the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Forgive us God that We the Church struggle to pull our overloaded carts of problems and everything We have, when We should be giving them over to You.
Maybe We forgot that We speak a foreign language to our culture, the language of LOVE, and it doesn’t need a translator. (1 John 4:7,8)
Maybe We forgot that Real People that have needs are brought into our lives every day by God, so We can fill them. Our mission is to Find a Need and Fill it.
(1 John 3:18)
Maybe We forgot that Ministry happens at a planned event and even when We have nowhere to go. We just have to be available and willing to be led by Your Spirit.
Because of Jesus, Your wide driveways of depression and anxiety will be newly paved over with His powerful revealing light. And His Spirit will bring You unspeakable Peace. You just need to thank Him for Who He is. (Philippians 4:6,7)
Because of Him, Your vast empty parking lot of broken dreams will be filled with His Purpose and His Destiny. You just need to ask Him. (1 John 5:14,15)
With His Spirit, We are never Homeless. Alone. Or Frail.
Walk in His Kingdom today. With HIS Shelter. With HIS Strength.
Christians Nationwide to become First Responders to real life problems in their community. 211 is a National emergency phone number that helps people in crisis or transition. A trained live operator will give you local phone numbers and resources for food, shelter, health etc. Every church should have this number posted. Go to 211.org for more info.
Victoria and others like her. Shelters in the South Bay are not open on the weekends. Homelessness is not a problem that is going away. The Church needs to address this need in its community and be on the front lines.
Ernesto (Director of the local Salvation Army). His branch has been open for just a few years. His branch feeds homeless people daily. He relies on donations. The local grocery chains (Albertsons, Haggen, Fresh & Easy) that have been giving to him, are all closing. His donations have dropped. The homeless population he serves has increased 3 TIMES. He needs help. Email him.
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