Love Like Christ
There are nearly 12,000 unhoused people in the DC area. I see more than a few of them every day, and it breaks my heart every time. The reality that my missionary stipend does not provide me with the resources to give substantial and immediate help does not make me feel better. The reality that I am involved in justice work does not make me feel better. The guilt is overwhelming. The first couple of months here in DC, I have to be honest, I averted my eyes. I felt totally useless, knowing there was nothing I could do to ease their circumstances.
For weeks, I have not been able to get one particular man out of my mind. I see him every day on my way to Union Station after work. He never harasses anyone, never causes any commotion. He just stands there and accepts money from people on their way home for the day.
I felt totally useless, knowing there was nothing I could do to ease their circumstances.
I am not outgoing, let me lead with that. I am the worst at small talk. But when I walked to the metro and saw him standing there yet again, I knew I had to do something.
I asked him his name. Jeff. Jeff is from Minnesota and he was thankful for the warmer than average temperatures that December. He told me about winters when he had to deal with knee deep snow piled on the sidewalks all over the city and the cold temperatures making his life more difficult. He told me that he prefers DC to Minneapolis, and that he used to work for the Park System back home. We talked for about five minutes and I told him I wished there was something I could do for him. He told me not to worry, that there are a few regulars that usually help him out.
I have no grand assumptions that the conversation meant anything to Jeff, but if the roles were reversed, I know I would personally feel better being acknowledged than ignored - even if the avoidance is out of guilt. Jeff and every other of the several thousand unhoused people in DC are people. The same is true of the unhoused in your community.
We can remember that every single person we meet is a beloved child of God, and is so incredibly precious to our Creator.
We can make assumptions about why people are in the circumstances they are in. We can judge them and the life decisions we have decided that they have made – whether or not they have in fact made them. Or, we can remember that we worship another homeless man. We can remember that every single person we meet is a beloved child of God, and is so incredibly precious to our Creator. And we can treat everyone, no matter their circumstances, as someone with sacred worth.
Being a friend might not make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. Jeff has helped me see the bigger picture, however. Help for the unhoused comes in many ways, and all are able to do something.
Discussion question: How is God asking you to embrace your weaknesses and discomfort to extend the love of Christ to another?