Thursday, July 15, 2010
As I mentioned in my 1st post, some amazing things have happened in my life over the past few weeks. My young adult ministry, Fusion, has kinda like its own dedicated missions team called Sunday2Sunday or s2s. s2s is the brain child of Avery and Dede Nesbitt who decided to create a way to do missions work right here in the city. And boy does Atlanta need some missionaries!
So I got the chance to go on the June 2010 s2s missions tour and man...talk about life changing. s2s's mission is to open your eyes to the city and world we live in so that you can't leave unchanged. And trust me...ministering to the homeless, laughing and talking with those that depend on kind strangers for food and praying for sex trafficking victims on the streets put life into perspective. It breaks your heart for what breaks the heart of God.
I left the experience wanting to continue doing something, anything. Even if I couldn't go back out and sit with some of the people I encountered, I wanted to let the world know about the atrocities right here in our city. I'm a Facebook junkie and I often post articles and my own commentary about social justice issue and I guess Dede and Avery were noticing. It struck me the other day that I needed to have an outlet to vent my frustration and I knew journal writing wouldnt be effective. I would get bored and not keep it up but would still have all these thoughts and emotions bottled up. So what else could I do...start writing. I have always liked to write though I got out of the habit of writing creatively years ago. But now was my chance to let my voice be heard, well to an extent. I didnt want anyone reading my blog just yet. I wanted to share my own private thoughts and start getting some sort of structure and order to all the chaos in my head.
Almost as soon as I posted the desire to start writing again, Dede and Avery commented and inboxed me about writing for s2s's blog about the plight of the city and country. They had never any seen any of my writing but they wanted me to blog for s2s!!! I was excited, honored and absolutely nervous. Avery and Dede are awesome and down to Earth but I hold them in high regard cause they are leaders that I admire. s2s is their baby and I wanted to make sure I do good work.
I have so many articles to comment, its the narrowing it down to relevant issues and to not sound too preachy. So I took a stab at my first s2s blog entry. I hope they like it cause I'm kinda proud of it. Thanks to all of my new friends that inspired that entry.
One Simple Thing
I made some new friends recently. There’s Samuel, tall and lanky, almost like a gentle giant. He speaks softly as he tells stories about his life and family. Then, there’s Wallace. He’s a licensed barber who was taught how to cut hair by the same man who taught his mother 40 years earlier. There’s Robert, who works construction, and has a weakness for sweets. Melanie, the avid movie fan, has a laugh and quick wit that makes anyone feel right at home. Lewis is a former rodeo bull rider from Jacksonville, FL with a love for fishing. He has a heart of gold and smiles at the thought of his 13 year old daughter like any proud father would.
My friends are all people who are full of life, hope, and faith for the future. As the day winds down, just like us, they prepare themselves for bed. While we check the locks and windows before climbing into bed, my friends line the steps of warehouses and churches with thin, tattered blankets and their belongings stuffed in a bag as a pillow. They are regular people just like you and I, except they are all homeless.
These are the names of some of the homeless people that the city of Atlanta chooses to ignore. They are not just a statistic. They are not just the people we avoid eye contact with as we stroll pass Woodruff Park. These are not just people to pity during the 90 second news clip during dinner. These are God’s children, just like us. So why have we forgotten them?
The world teaches us through the media that the homeless are a nuisance, a burden to the city. They tarnish the image of prosperity and safety our city officials try so desperately to portray. But when was the last time a police officer or a politician stopped and spoke with the man sitting alone by the fountains of Woodruff park? When was the last time you stopped to bring a warm blanket and meal the woman sleeping on a church steps?
So, the question many ask is “What can I do to help the homeless?” Yeah, we can all do our Christian duties and volunteer at homeless shelters or food banks passing out hot meals and smiles. But when your assignment is done, what do you take from that experience? What do you remember? The nice thing you did for the less fortunate? The lady in the green shirt that asked for a second helping? The man in the red hat that just stared off into the distance? The little kid with the holes in his shoes?
Is that it?
What were their names? Where was the lady from? Does the man with the red hat have any family in the city? What does that little kid want to be when he grows up? Do you remember? Did you even stop and ask?
I’ve read countless articles and news reports about the plight of the homeless. Plenty of facts, stats and weak solutions. But I don’t recall seeing many names and stories associated with these percentages. Why? Cause a name and a story makes that lady in the green shirt real. It’s hard to ignore a bright eyed kid with dreams for the future and holes in his shoes.
Again the question is “What can I do to help the homeless?” The answer is very simple. Take a minute to stop and ask them their name. Sit along side them and let them tell you their story. Make them real and watch God change your heart towards them.