Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me. My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran.
This past weekend I had the privilege of participating in a Christmas in New York gathering for friends of Cru Inner City. We saw some of the realities of life in the inner city and heard stories of help and hope. I was especially moved by this message from John Sather, co-national director of this ministry to the poor and marginalized. This truly expresses the heart of God. You will want to watch the Brennan Manning video at the end–I believe this helps us grasp the heart of Christmas.
- Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 25:40 – “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.’
- Jeremiah 22: 16 – “He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the Lord.”
- Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”
- Psalm 35:10 – “All my bones shall say,“O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
Pastor John Piper states, “The point of Isaiah 58 is this: Piety that does not produce a passion for God-exalting social justice and practical mercy is worthless. Or to put it positively: God promises that we will break forth like the dawn if our piety produces a passion for social justice and practical mercy.”Continue Reading
“Ninety Days of Blessing” is in progress–a call to each of us to “be a blessing.”
On May 15, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday and the Global Day of Prayer. The Global Day of Prayer draws together millions around the world to pray. But that’s just the beginning. Each child of God is then challenged to be a blessing for Ninety Days of Blessing to the nations.
Or to your city or neighborhood or neighbor.
You can get involved in ongoing efforts to bless others, such as being a foster parent or helping at a homeless shelter or mentoring an at-risk kid or joining the effort to fight slavery and trafficking. And you can do small things each day to be a blessing to someone you love, know or just encounter.
Here is a month’s worth of “be a blessing” ideas to get you started. Be intentional. Think about which of these, or other ideas you have, you could do each day. After 30 days, repeat twice. Not only will you bless 90 people, or more, but you will form a habit of blessing as you go.
Thirty easy ways to be a blessing:
- Take a meal to a sick friend.
- Talk to a homeless person. Ask his name and how his journey brought him to this place. And give some money or food or a gift card.
- Ask a person about her story—and listen to her tell it.
- Write a note—handwritten—telling someone how much you appreciate him. Be specific.
- Do some grocery shopping for an elderly friend.
- Say “God bless you” to store clerks.
- Hold a surprise party for a special birthday, or a big celebration, or just to do it.
- Shop at a thrift store—to bless yourself and those the charity serves.
Share your garden flowers or produce with neighbors.
- Read to a blind person.
- Volunteer at an after school program.
- Mow the lawn for someone who is sick.
- Make a pot of soup—for your family and to share with a neighbor.
- Volunteer to drive an elderly or disabled person to an appointment.
- Genuinely compliment someone who might not hear too many compliments.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Pray for a friend in a hard place.
- Sit with a person who has suffered a great loss.
- Sing to a feverish child.
- Stoop down to talk with a child at her level.
Call that person you have been meaning to call.
- Offer to do laundry for a mom with young children.
- Offer to keep a sick child so Mom can go to work.
- Invite someone to go to church with you.
- Give a hug to a discouraged friend.
- Do online research for someone who can’t do it herself.
- Teach your grandfather how to use Facebook or Instagram.
- Offer to reach the back of the shelf for a shorter person at the grocery store.
- Host a neighborhood potluck.
- Walk your neighborhood and pray for those who live in each home.
Be blessed as you bless others.
What about you? Who/what has blessed you?
C2016 Judy Douglass
He was sitting outside my Publix grocery store.
He was elderly, in a wheelchair. Few if any teeth. Not shaven. Grocery bags hanging on the back and sides of his wheelchair.
As I approached the door to the store, he did not speak to me or ask me for anything. So I approached him and said, “Is there anything I can do for you, Sir?”
He smiled. ‘Yes, please.,” he said. “I would be grateful for a loaf of bread. I prefer Nature’s Own Butter Bread, but whatever you could get would be so good. And an extra plastic bag, please.” He assured me he would be there when I came out.
So I went about my shopping, quickly finding the bread he preferred. As I passed through the aisles looking for my items, I noticed things he might appreciate: peanut butter for that bread, some plasticware to spread that peanut butter, napkins (red), a couple of individual boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and a small bottle of milk, bananas—soft to chew, a box of soft granola bars, a couple of juice boxes.
And just before I checked out I was drawn to the good smells coming from the deli and got him some fresh chicken strips. All that required three grocery bags (the bread needed its own), so he not only got his desired bread and two extra bags, but also a few other nutritious treats. And a $10 bill in the bottom of a bag.
When I came out with three bags for him, his grin expanded. I asked him where to hang these bags, and he told me what to put where. I then offered him the chicken strips and he was delighted.
I said, “Sir, is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, no,” he said. “This is wonderful. Thank you so much. God bless you.”
“And God bless you, Sir,” I replied with my biggest smile.
His gratitude was effusive and my joy was overflowing as I left him with a prayer.
So why do I tell you this story? So you think I am kind and generous? No, though I do desire to be kind and generous.
Everything I read about homeless people is that they feel invisible. People not only don’t speak to them, but look the other way.
Yet it takes so little effort to speak to them, to address them respectfully. Yes, to give a little or a lot to meet a need, but more to acknowledge they are people, to regard their humanity, to honor their dignity.
My gift to him, gathered as I shopped for myself, totaled no more than $25. So little.
Did I do this perfectly? Probably not. Could I have done more? Surely. Do I still have lots to learn? Of course.
Yet I hope he felt my love and respect and rejoiced not only in his physical needs being addressed, but that he was seen, that he did not feel invisible.
What about you? How can you “see” those in need around you?
C2015 Judy Douglass
Image from streetroots.org
Our son and his wife were living with us for a few months. They had met Joey and Tammy—not married, broke, homeless, probably using drugs—somewhere. Her grandmother had kicked them out. They wanted to help them.
We said yes, for a few days.
The next day was Easter. We set two more places and they feasted with us. And asked questions about the meaning of Easter. And wondered why we would take in two strangers.