I turn my back on the homeless

“For now we see in a glass, dimly, but then we shall see face to face” – 1 Corinthians 13:12

I have a parking permit for the lot across from my church.

It’s a busy lot, and occasionally full by the time I get to work. Typically, though, there are a few spots available in the back row.

Those spots fill up last for two reasons:  They’re the farthest from the street, and they’re also the spots adjacent to the homeless shelter.

The shelter is over-crowded, and many of the people spend their time outside. Usually there are 5-10 people huddled in small groups, just talking and passing the time a few feet from where I park. I pull in and glance a little nervously at them through my dirty windshield. I make sure to lock my doors.

There is a moment, very brief, when I step out of my car and am facing their direction. Sometimes I make eye contact, but usually not. Then, I heave a small sigh of helplessness, turn my back on them, and head the opposite direction into the church.

I’m not suggesting my church has turned its back on the homeless. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this week we received a beautiful plaque from the shelter naming members of our church “Volunteers of the year”.

Our church provides space for “Jubilee Cafe”, a breakfast kitchen that operates twice a week. Members serve along with other churches at LINK, the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen. Our church is one of many who participate in Family Promise, where families with young children stay at the church for a week and are cared for by members of the church. Our pastor’s fund provides help on a case by case level for those needing deposit money for moving into an apartment.

I’m so proud of the people in my church who help our community’s homeless people. But I don’t always feel like I’m one of them. I realize that although I encourage our members to help out in so many ways, I need to be involved, too.

And so, I’ve signed up to  help with the next Family Promise week. I’m one of the people on the prep team. We’ll be re-configuring furniture and setting up cots in several classrooms, so that the families who come to stay will feel comfortable and welcome. I may not actually meet any of our visitors this time, but it’s a step in the right direction. Next time, I may even stay overnight. We’ll see.

God has called us to do more than see these precious people through a windshield, dimly.

God calls us to love them…

Face to Face.

Have a Great Week,


image by ehow.com, amysgarage.com

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