I have spent years serving in many different capacities. Most recently I have been spending many of my Sundays serving with an incredible non-profit called Bring the Light Ministries.
They serve food, clothes and the word to the homeless directly where they are. Instead of a soup kitchen, we go down into the tent camps of Dallas and serve them where they are. It is an experience that is saddening and uplifting at the same time. Yesterday was no different.
We packed up water, hot meals and our tubs of clothes and drove the 30 minutes to where they live. We climb out of our cars and offer love, prayer, the word and a hot meal to those who Jesus told us to care for. It is humbling in that any one of us could find ourselves there. It isn’t something that people like to think about. The homeless become invisible and it is a problem meant for someone else to help with. I don’t see what others see when I serve. I don’t just see the fallen, the hopeless, or the drug-addicted. I see the lost sheep that Christ came to save. I see the face of a mother, a father, someone’s brother or sister, a daughter or son.
Some of the people we serve will come to grab food and hurry off. No explanation or story to be heard. Some people we recognize and know by name. We hug them, offer prayer and a meal and the blessed assurance that we will be back next week to offer up the same hope that someone somewhere cares. That they are seen. When I look into their faces, I see someone that God loves. I see people that have value in the kingdom and who had lives before they found themselves here. I see someone Christ died for.
Most days there isn’t a lot of time to be spent figuring out the why. This Sunday afforded a few moments more in a particular spot. What I heard broke my heart.
“I used to be somebody.”
A gentleman walked up to the back of the car where we were handing out the meals. You could see the pain on his face.
“You are still somebody.” I reply. His face was so downcast and defeated. I truly couldn’t think of the right words to offer hope.
“No, really, I used to be somebody. I was a PGA Golfer. I had a family.”
I could tell that he needed to share. I just locked eyes with him and let him talk.
“I lost my family. My wife, my son. I lost everything.” He paused to gather himself, I could tell it was hard for him to share. His breathing changed, as if the pain of the loss he suffered was still so fresh.
“My wife and son, they died in a car accident.” He paused again, then took a deep breath. He seemed so small to me in that moment. As if it happened only moments ago, he was God’s precious child in that moment. I placed my hand on his shoulder, he looked at me with tears welled up in his eyes and said in a voice that was almost too quiet to hear.
“I lost everything and I went a little crazy after that.”
Truth be told, I myself would go a lot a bit of crazy if I lost my family. I think that it is safe to say that most of us would be angry, lost and confused. We talked for a few more minutes, I told him that he was still so important to God, and that there is so much more to this life and a hope that is hard to see through all that pain. I hugged him and it was time to go.
I think most people assume the homeless are just the drug addicts or the people who were too lazy to do anything about what was pulling them down in life so they succumbed to being just that. The homeless bum or drunk panhandling for money. There may be some truth to that, but that isn’t the only definition. They are humans like you and me. They had lives that they felt assured would bring them a home and the things that they needed. No one plans to become homeless. I have met hundreds of homeless and I know that there are so many stories like this. Stories of broken hearts and broken homes and a person who had no one to give them hope of what could be beyond the pain of loss and suffering.
When I woke up this morning, I prayed for those souls, sleeping on the street, in a tent and on the side of the road in a sleeping bag or just on a blanket hoping to stay warm. I prayed that they find hope. I prayed we brought hope. I continue to pray that as Bring the Light Ministries grows to help more and more that I will be able to bring love and hope, light in the dark and a face that shines of the love God and our beloved Christ has for each of them.
No matter where you are in this life, you are worth it, you were bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus and it doesn’t matter how low you get, He loves you and so do I.
P.S. If you would like to give to help serve these sweet souls, please click the link and visit Bring the Light Ministries and help us continue to bring food, clothes and hot meals to the least of us and help them see they are not invisible.