It was during my Junior year of college, summertime, that my view of the world was completely rocked! I spent 3 months serving on a ministry team in Calcutta, India. My life had always been filled with blessing; faithful parents who loved God and provided well for our family of eight. I enjoyed a good education, warm home, good food, nice clothes, and people who cared for me. Imagine the shock to my senses as I walked along the streets of Calcutta seeing single mothers caring for their young children under cardboard boxes leaning against a dirty cement walls! I watched elderly people sitting in the same spot for days and days because they simply had nowhere to go; no place to call their own. This was the first time I had come face to face with real poverty, real homelessness.
Why do I choose to write about this today? Well, the weather is changing. It is in the cold Winter months that those who live in poverty; those without homes, feel the sting of their situation the most. Poverty is not just in India; poverty is in my own town. My sister is a principal in our neighboring community; her school serves numerous families living in poverty, some even living in their cars. These little children come to school cold, hungry, and tired.
Today I listened to an interview on Focus on the Family with Richard Stearns, the head of World Vision ( an organization the reaches out to meet the need of those in poverty around the world). In the interview he shared about what it “feels” like to be homeless. He expressed it this way:
“Imagine that you had only one set of clothing that you had to wear every single day. Imagine you had no access to electricity; no lights, washer and dryer, no computer or phone. Imagine you had no fresh water to drink or to wash with; your only way of getting clean would be a lake or pond somewhere. Imagine you had no access to food; all you have is food you had to forage for. Imagine you had no access to any medical care; no doctor, Tylenol, cough medicine, etc. Imagine you had no place to call home; no bed, couch, bathroom, or private space of your own. Imagine experiencing all of this while thousands of people around you are enjoying all those elements of life.
How would you feel? I imagine I would feel ashamed and hopeless. I imagine I would wonder if I was invisible to the people around me.
I can hear some of you saying ” but there are people who make choices that cause them to be in a state of poverty”~~ I have said that myself. But, everyone has a story to tell about how they became homeless; challenges they faced, and I know God’s heart is a heart of compassion.
Well, the weather is changing; snow and frigid temperatures are right around the corner. How can we help the homeless in this Winter season? Every town has a shelter that would love your support. Ours is Bethlehem Inn, http://www.bethleheminn.org. There are worldwide organizations such as World Vision to which you can give.
There is one need that I am particularly aware of and would like to tell you about:
Rev. Rick Cole of the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento plans to leave his wallet behind, pick up his sleeping bag and ride light rail to downtown Sacramento. Pastor Cole said he feels his quest might have been divinely inspired. It popped into his head a few weeks ago while he was brainstorming with others about how to fund a program that buses about 100 homeless people on winter nights to area churches and synagogues, where they eat and sleep and get help finding work and more-permanent shelter. Pastor Cole plans to live on the streets of Sacramento until enough funding is raised to meet the incredible need of shelter and food in the winter months! Greg and I have known this pastor for well over ten years and can vouch for his authenticity; he is not a mere attention-getter. He sincerely wants to understand what it feels like to be homeless, he sincerely wants to get out of his comfort zone to make a difference in his community! If you want to learn more go to #revonthestreets
As the weather changes and we nestle by the fire with a hot cup of Starbucks ,let’s ask God to show us ways that we can help those who are in need.
1 John 3:17 says; But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Matt 25:35-40 says; “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’