I'm definitely inspired by them and was also able to go up to Portland to surprise Seren the other day to assist her w/her 3 kiddies while she and Andy put on a homeless banquet (including backpacks, jackets, clothes and shoe-handouts, hot showers, haircuts, football-watching and feasting) on New Year's Day. One of the biggest words God spoke to my heart that day was when one of the homeless men, just as he was walking in the door reached out to touch my chin in his own little gesture of hello and I quickly knee-jerked with a response of retreating myself and the baby I was holding, about 2 feet back. The moment I jerked back in shock of myself and I'm sure the rest surrounding me, God impressed these words on my heart and repeated them all day long, I touched the lepers, Krystal (those who were diseased, cast out from the normal, healthy and necessary loving interactions with other human beings and otherwise considered as appalling and sinful to draw near to) and I let them touch Him. As tears stung my eyes during this and many other encounters this day, threatening to spill all over the place, I retreated back down to the "kids room" downstairs to ponder what this really meant and what God was really trying to speak to me this day. Just a few of the many tumbling thoughts in my heart that whole afternoon...Am I ever really willing to touch, not just serve meals or build houses for the downtrodden outcasts in the world? I find that I, and I would assume many others, live so fearful of them and want to serve them only close enough, so that we still feel comfortable in our clean, healthy and safe little worlds. Do I really encounter them like Jesus did, touching them, letting them touch me, showing a vested concern and interest in their stories and souls with a love that only God can pour into and out of me towards them, which is what ultimately draws their hearts into healing and wholeness in Him?
This experience of a love feast for the homeless in a private home of a Christian family up in Portland, was something so out of the ordinary from our typical serving-comfort-zone, that I think it made each of us squirm over it, in our own way, throughout most of the day (especially our hair-cutting servant as she had to squish a lice on herself as she was washing her hands after all of the cuts and the 2 women that had to clean up the fecal matter all over the shower and clothing from one man that had an accident all over himself.) But the most precious ones to watch interact with the "dirty and sometimes stinky and dangerous" homeless? THE CHILDREN. Jesus always said to come to Him as little children and that as much as we do unto the poor and needy we do unto Him. The servant-families who brought their children to the banquet were I'm certain (as I was an adopt-an-aunty for the day), more than a little uneasy about the safety of their children in different measures that day. But you would have never known it from the group of children themselves. You'll see in some of the pictures in my album that they spent time that day, when they could escape from the downstairs "kids room", they reached out, sat near, sat on laps and listened with the purest of hearts that we adults sometimes lose in in "oh-so-mature-knowledge" of the dangers and lack of sanitation of these homeless people. If only we could reach out to others like those children, all of the walls would be torn down and we would all stand next to and before one another w/o shame, judgment or condemnation b/c we all serve and have need of the same loving, holy and forgiving God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who is NO RESPECTER of persons. This experience sure humbled me into the desire to challenge myself and find opportunities to do it more often. Each of the people we served that New Year's day had a story to share, many of them actually, and all of them deserved a right to have them heard, prayed over and sympathized over with a love that only Christ can extend to them, through us. Let's be watchful together for more of those God-opportunities to reach out to the "lepers" of our world today, your socks will be blessed off way more than they have need of them.
P.S. I had a man who I was holding a mirror for while he gave himself a much-needed shave job, in our make-shift beauty parlor, ask me why I did something like this. I wish I could go back now with what I see now, after God has ruminated these things into my heart deeper, and share with Patrick more honestly and with more clarity what God has impressed onto my heart about why it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
Click on the link below for an album of the New Year's Day homeless banquet and celebration (the 3 beautimous wee ones you see in a lot of pics are Seren & Andy's kiddos, whom I treasure SO much)...
|New Year's Day Homeless Banquet with Coulombe's|