Opinion > Star Staff
Feeding the Homeless
By Leslie Wilson, Reality Motherhood
The two men shifted nervously in front of our Sunday school class. A person in the audience might have mistakenly thought they didn't like public speaking. But they stopped fidgeting when they got into the stories about serving at a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas. The class could sense their excitement, their passion.
I feel bad for even admitting this, but I kind of laughed as I heard questions from class members following their testimony.
"Is it safe? I heard a lot of those people used to be in prison."
"I'd be worried about parking my car down there. Did you have any trouble?"
"How did you know what to say to them?"
The reason for my chuckle is that I've seen my kids and their friends at church minister to the homeless on a regular basis. Every month, they make and deliver the sandwiches to homeless people in downtown Dallas. But the food is secondary to the time spent visiting with a segment of the population that most folks would like to forget about -- and many have.
My husband likes to tell about watching my daughter go up to a hulking man, grab his hands and ask, "How can I pray for you today?" (Maybe this doesn't sound all that strange to you, but consider the fact that Molly is 4'11," and the man was 6'2".)
I love to hear another student, Kailey, tell stories about her homeless friends. She has many! But she doesn't just tell us about their life histories, she asks us to pray for their specific needs at that moment. That's how intimately she knows them.
I'll never forget the day Kailey arrived at discipleship group with red-rimmed eyes. I hugged her and asked why she'd been crying.
"My friend Joe died."
"Joe," I said, my mind flipping through files of kids I knew. "I don't think I know who that is."
"He's one of the guys I see at the shelter. We've gotten to be good friends." She went on to tell me how she'd taken him a cupcake on his birthday the year before. "I'm really going to miss him."
About a month later, Kailey found out another man named Joe had passed, not her friend. "I'm sad for the other man's family, but I'm so thankful my Joe is still alive."
How do those kids do it? How do they feel comfortable talking to strangers, people that the rest of society avoids?
They don't view life through a cynical, fearful scope that many adults develop. Basically, they still have faith that God is in control, not them.
Ask yourself a few questions: Do you view life through a lens of fear or faith? Do you walk in distress, panicking about every little thing? Or do you go ahead and serve others, regardless of potential negative consequences? The Bible reminds us about the importance of serving in this passage from Matthew 25:40: "The King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" (NLT).
I realize that homeless ministry isn't for everyone, but here are a few other ideas:
* Make and take Valentine's Day cards to a nursing home.
* Offer to babysit for a stressed-out preschool mom or person who cares for a special needs child.
* Clean up or do odd jobs for an elderly person in your neighborhood.
* Collect coats for the homeless or toiletries for a battered women's shelter.
The important thing is to do something. And serve someone else. If you're struggling, find a young person to watch.
Author/speaker Leslie Wilson just released a new ebook: "The Hungry Games: Lose Weight God's Way & Never Diet Again." Check it out on Amazon. She also blogs at www.lesliewilson.com. Follow her on Twitter @LesliePWilson or like her Facebook fan page: Leslie Wilson.
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