A question that I’m asked from time to time is why I do ministry with those experiencing homelessness. The only answer that matters is this – I do it because doing ministry with those experiencing homelessness is what it means to be church, to live out the faith that has been given to us.
Last evening at our truck stop ministry I met someone who had an impact on me – Sandy. I don’t know Sandy’s whole story, or much of her story really. I don’t need to. I could see it her eyes.
Sandy has a slew of challenges – that I know. I can only imagine what is in her past and how it has impacted her.
But Sandy was there. I had the privilege of sitting next to Sandy at dinner. And I listened to her. She talked. She needed to. She needed someone to just listen to her and not think she was crazy. And so I listened. And my heart broke for her.
We got her set up with some sleeping bags, scarves, blankets, sock warmers, gloves, hats, and a number of other supplies. And when the evening was over, myself and another person from the church prayed with Sandy for her safety.
And then we left knowing that Sandy was going to be sleeping outside at some point and we were going home.
Sandy isn’t unique. There’s a ton of Sandys out there. Waiting to be heard. Waiting for someone to see the humanity in them. Waiting for someone to just listen to them and not think they are crazy. Waiting for someone to see the Image of God in them. Waiting to pray with someone. Waiting to know that they are not alone.
That’s what ministry is all about. That’s what keeps me going – especially when I come across people like Sandy. Sandy impacted me last night.
She impacted me because of her generosity. She took what we gave her, and she shared it with those around her. She gave in a caring manner. She gave in a loving way. She had nothing, and she gave anyway.
Sandy impacted me last night. I think that’s what is supposed to happen when Jesus shows up. Last night Jesus was in our midst. And for part of the time Jesus showed up as Sandy – giving, loving, caring. She didn’t just give blankets and a hat to others. She gave me hope. She gave me humility. She gave me kindness. She gave me generosity. She gave me grace.
Sandy will remain in my prayers and in my memory. I hope she is able to get where she was trying to go. I hope she is safe. I know that she is not alone and I hope that there are others who will listen to her and see the image of God in her. It’s there. And it shows itself in the most beautiful way.