My grandfather was homeless. I remember him, stinky and smelly, and residing in a thrown away trailer at a junkyard. He was homeless, yet he had a roof over his head. Months after we had gone to visit him in Dallas, he turned up missing. My aunt and mother looked for him tirelessly. After several months of searching and phone calls, my mom and aunts finally found him and he wasn't the man they previously knew. Not the homeless man at least. He had been hit in the head, found and taken to a Nursing Home. We moved him to our local town and my Dad and I bought him ice cream and prayed with him. My roots are clothed in humility. Recently, my heart has been stirred to help serve on a local outreach called, Road to Damascus. Honestly, most of my "service" has been in praying and minimally serving the homeless in my busy schedule.
Denton has had an increase in the homeless population recently. Dallas closed down "Tent City," where many homeless people lived. Now, many have purposely come Denton because of its reputation to clothe and feed them. More and more are arriving everyday. I challenge us here in Denton to open up our hearts and give a little more.
We don't know what caused their initial homeless state. I recently encountered a woman who's home was flooded. She was put up for a few days by FEMA and the Red Cross, and then ran out of resources and help. She had no family or savings to turn to. She is also battling cancer. She is now traveling on foot at the mercy of the Texas heat and storms to find a place, anywhere to settle. She needed help.
Recently, a man named Manuel Abrego died because the bridge he was sleeping under flooded and swept him away in the current. I talked to his friend who was rescued and she described the event. She said the waters rose high and before she knew it they were trying to escape the waters, but it was slippery. She was a walking miracle because she was swept downstream for 1 mile before being rescued.
I went to Manuel's memorial service at Zera's Coffee Shop. I was so inspired by learning about his life. He was described to have a giving heart. One man said he had him put together a crib for his coming newborn. Manuel built the crib in the drive way, then discovered it wouldn't fit through the door of their house. So he took it apart and put it back together again in their living room... only to discover it wouldn't fit through the bedroom door. So, he took it apart and finally completed it. What a beautiful story of persistence, patience and a giving heart. Another beautiful story that portrayed his giving heart was that if he saw someone in need with hunger, etc., then, if he didn't have the money or food to give them, he would go and ask for money himself, so he could regive it to them.
My church's theme this year is RE. Whatever God has done in the past, He will REdo. While at Manuel's memorial service, I realized he was a REgifter. Then I realized, we are ALL called to REgift. We have so much..... I mean, I don't know about you but I have a bunch of clothes I do not wear, and I've cleaned out that closet like 3 times this year. I have piles of laundry and I keep asking myself why???? We have TONS of toys, and so many extra things we do not need or use- a wok, furniture, the list goes on. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has too much stuff!!! I am called to REgift. The early church met each others needs by sharing. I challenge us, as I am challenged myself and feel the Father's heart nudging. Perhaps the reason I have been given so much is so that I can REgive it. I want to be like Manuel Abrego. I want to give (even if it means I have to REmeasure a time or two :) and persistently give again and again, until I'm finished giving at that particular moment. If I don't have the way to meet the needs myself, then I want to ask around and find the resources the person needs.
Years ago I had a dream. I was in my home town, walking through a neighborhood that I had so many times ridden my bike through as a kid, and I was yelling to people that Jesus was coming back and that He loved them. A woman with a baby stroller shouted from her porch back to me, "If Jesus is coming back then where is my food? If he is coming back, then where are my clothes?"
In Bible College I had a somewhat similar dream. I was in our cafeteria line waiting to get food. So was a dear friend who became a missionary. A person who I did not know came from behind me and started stealing my food. I started to get mad at him. After I woke up, I told my roommate the dream. She asked me if I had payed for the food and after telling her that I had not, she pointed out to me that we haven't payed for anything. Jesus did. Jesus gave the food to us and for us to meet our needs. I believe the food represents the church meeting practical needs- clothes, shoes, real food.... and so much more- being a friend, counseling, helping out in a tough time, they need not to be ignored. So many homes have been flooded lately due to storms. I just know that means several families with out savings. Families like my own. Families who will be forced to reorganize their lives at the mercy of dwindling funds and little to nothing. So many people who will be forced to be homeless and displaced in the blink The needs have reached our doorsteps. There are so many ministries here in Denton to give your helping hands or funding to. To name a few; Road to Damascus, 1st Refuge Ministries, Amazing Love Ministries, Friends of the Family, etc. (I will update as I find out.) There is even a lovely Facebook Group: Buy Nothing Denton that is based on gifting and sharing- and NOT upon buying or selling.
It is with these thoughts that I leave you with this poem I wrote tonight... followed by Jesus' words on the matter.
You are my brother, my sister
But I have looked away
You are sad and hopeless
And I haven't got the time of day
I will judge you from afar
But pray to God on Sunday
I will despise you in my heart
But read "love your neighbor as yourself"
I've had so many chances to be the Good Samaritan to you
Will I be shocked on Judgment Day?
Your mom said a prayer for you
God meant for me to be the answer
But I turned and walked away
What would they have thought of me?
If they had seen me speak to the likes of you?
Let me say a prayer for you
One with a dab of sincerity
As I turn and walk away
"Jesus I pray to You
For the homeless all around
God send someone to help them
Send them quickly
They look sad and alone
Poor them, they have no home"
I've said my prayer
I've done my duty so I'm done.
But I couldn't help but wonder
About my sister and my brother
As I see them on the streets
I cannot turn and walk away
I cannot ignore humanity
So I will try again to do my part
God is changing my heart
One that matters on this earth as much as me
One whose troubles I could never imagine
I'm sorry for the conversations that never happened
I didn't get to see the beauty inside you
I didn't know you'd make me laugh
I didn't know you'd say something so profound
That would give me peace of mind
I didn't know I could encourage you
To take the next step you'd need
I'm sorry I didn't take time to hear your story
To be a friend to someone in need
I now understand
In the midst of my plenty
I can now truly see
Jesus had no home
No place to lay his head to sleep
He relied on humanity
To meet his needs
And now I cannot help but ask myself this question,
"Would I have helped Jesus- clothed Him or fed Him
Or would I have turned and walked away?"
35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’