God is doing big things. I don't mean to say He's beginning big things, but that I'm beginning to recognize big things. As Christians, we can jump in and allow God to use us in His big plans, or we can sit idly by and watch God use others to accomplish what He wants. What a tragedy that we sit too often!
Friday, Glen took half the day off of work so he could run errands for Soleful Saturday, an event our church organized to collect old shoes for The Shoeman Water Project. He needed to pick up the Jump 'n Space and pick some things up at Sam's Club - both about 30 minutes away. The kids and I spent the afternoon at homeschool co-op and by the time we were done, Glen was almost back to town so we met him at the church to help him unload.
After all the food was unloaded, Glen and the kids began pulling the Jump 'n Space out of his truck (which was comical). He saw a man walking up the street and came inside to ask me for cash. The man had come by earlier and talked with him. He told him his name was David and that he was homeless and out of money. He has a job, but it's 20 minutes away and he doesn't have a car or a place to stay. Someone he's been riding with was letting him stay with him, but they aren't letting him stay there anymore - he didn't go into the details of that. Glen didn't have any cash (as usual), but told him to come by between 5 and 6. It was 4:15. Let me just say....the fact that this man caught anyone at our church is a miracle in and of itself. Our church is a small church with a small congregation. My husband is a bi-vocational pastor, so he isn't there during business hours, and he's the only paid employee (besides the people who clean the church once a week). While there are people who come and go occasionally to make copies for their class or practice their songs, no one's there on a regular basis.
I had ten dollars on me, so I gave it to Glen. Glen met the man outside and they talked for a long time. I called a local motel for prices and Glen drove him there. We invited him back for Soleful Saturday so we could at least feed him again. The rest of the evening was busy with last minute things to do. The next morning was my BSF leader's meeting, so I was up bright and early. After my meeting, I picked up face paint and headed home to change. Glen and the kids were already at the church moving tables outside, setting up the Jump 'n Space and setting the stage (or front porch as it's been called for many years!). Once I got there, I began making tea and lemonade. People from our church (and even a few friends) filtered in and jumped right in to help!
As the music started and the hot dogs cooked, I wondered if David would come. Later, about halfway through the event, he showed up. As I saw him walking up the street, I was so relieved to see him! As a church, it's our job to help those in need, but so often the church is taken advantage of. Many get a little help then never come back. It's for this reason that our town has a mission that most of the churches donate to. This way, they can just refer people to the mission when they're asked for help. A good thought, but here's the problem.....when David needed a place to stay, the mission was full. All of the places we referred him to were full. He had exhausted his resources! It's our job to help. Period. Yes, let's be discerning and not give God's money to people we know for sure are taking advantage, but if we don't give because we're "afraid" of what they may spend it on, some will most definitely fall through the cracks. What about them? Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."- Matthew 25:40
I think He is shaking His head at the ones that think they have it figured out. It's as if they're saying, "Just jump through all of these hoops and if you can pass the test, you've earned the money." That's how it seems at times. The early church took care of each other. They sold all of their possessions and lived together. They shared their earnings. There weren't some in the church driving Hummers while some drove Kias. They shared their wealth - or lack of it.
Please don't misunderstand! I know that this is a different time. Followers of Christ were shunned from their families. They were left without an inheritance or land. They weren't allowed to sell in the marketplace. I know it's a different time, but shouldn't we still bring them into the fold and take care of one another? Too often we stand at a distance and judge the choices they've made. We're all just a few choices away from where David is....and some end up homeless by no choice of their own at all. Many have lost jobs and homes over ailing health or corporate down-sizing.
David was one of the last ones to leave last night. He stayed and carried in tables and lugged tea pitchers up the stairs. He worked hard. When Glen left, he drove David back to the motel. This morning, David did not come to church. We prayed for him, but I thought we had seen him for the last time. We took up a special offering just in case, though. When the service was over and people began to leave, David came in. He had been waiting outside so he didn't "disturb" us! Are you kidding me? Is this the message the church is sending? Do Not Disturb? Wow! We assured him he most definitely would not have disturbed us - that we would've LOVED to have him worship with us! He then began to comment on what he was wearing. That he wasn't dressed for church. This is why I love God! He totally uses us when we don't know we're being used. Riley was laying down in a pew waiting on us to get done talking. We couldn't see him from where we were, but he raises his leg straight up in the air and says, "It doesn't matter what you wear. Look, I'm just wearing jeans!" Too funny!
After Glen talked with him privately, David came out of his office crying. He couldn't believe our church had helped him. He made the comment that people of "his own race" hadn't helped. We gave him a bottle of water and offered a few more to take with him. He took one but said no to the others. People would think he was a "hobo". I thought that was interesting. Still a man with pride. It's true that people judge based on appearance. It also seems as if the more you have, the more we're willing to give you. Helping someone that actually needs help doesn't happen too often.
David explained that he's going to be trying to stay in the town where he works - which is sensible so he won't need a ride to work, but that probably means we won't see him again. Glen gave him his business card to call us if he has any problems, and he promised to take up for Glen if he heard anyone bad-mouthing him or our church (not sure why he said that, but I LOVE it!). On his way out the door, Grayson handed him a Bible to take with him. He promised her he'd read it.
Our family and our church family will continue to pray for David. As soon as David left, the kids remembered they had two donuts left from this morning. They grabbed them in a hurry and ran them outside to him but he was gone. Nowhere to be found. Coincidence?
Please know that I share this, not to lift us up in any way, but as a reminder that we are surrounded by people who need practical help, if we'll only see them with Jesus' eyes.
Yes, God is definitely doing big things. Not because of us, but through us if we'll allow Him to.