This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
This story was submitted by Lionel, one of my readers, who blogs at “The Gospel in 3-D“.
On the Saturday before Christmas a group of independent believers decided they wanted to find a unique way to share the love of Christ with the homeless. But it actually started way before then. I got the idea by praying for a creative way to serve the community abroad. As I was walking through the mall the Spirit gave me a clear revelation. Steve and Barrys was having a going out of business sale where their shoes and coats would be 40-60% off. The store has really good quality clothing at a really low price so I thought “why not buy a bunch of clothes and coats and take them down to the homeless”. Well I decided to talk to a few friends of mine and a couple of them were interested.
My brother Ced decided to forward to the pastor of a house church he has been attending and they took the idea even further. They added water, sandwiches, fresh fruit and also decided to buy even more clothes, coats, and shoes. This was a blessing indeed since I really didn’t want to go there alone and due to the fact that the Lord impressed upon my heart to ask others in order to give them an opportunity to serve. Well I decided from there to post the outreach on my blog www.blackandreformedministries.com [Lionel has since started blogging at www.gospelin3d.com] and I found that a sister named Javetta who visited the blog was actually in the area and wanted to do what she could do. Javetta who blogs at regeneratedmusings.blogspot.com decided to bring some shirts and socks.
Well we started out over Brian’s house, they were making sandwiches, fellowshipping, and getting ready for the outreach. It was nice to meet other believers. Not worrying about doctrinal stuff, not talking theology, but living out theology in the way that Christ did. As we finished up and the kids came down, we noticed one problem. We really didn’t know any direct place to go. So we set out to one location, talked to a few people and ended up at a docking station. There we found hundreds of homeless men and women and all type of people from all walks of life. It was fun to laugh with them, share with them, and not try to proselytize them. No “how to get out of hell today” cards, just loving talking about Jesus and when the opportunity arose, sharing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
At the end this was a success! Not because the media was there, not because our church had checked off one more thing on the list, not because there was some program. It was a success because we only wanted to do what Jesus wanted us to. Quite a few people were excited and gave us hugs and “God bless”‘s.
I did want to highlight something. We ran out of shoes early and there was a woman in her mid 40’s or so who had on a new pair of industrial work shoes/boots, but they looked rather small for her stature. Well after talking with her for awhile she shared her disappointment about her inability to retain a pair of shoes. She said someone had given her the ones she had on but they were about a size or so too small. Our sister Javetta kindly and without a second thought, took her designer boots (not designer as in 100’s of dollars but very stylish and hip) and gave them too her. She told us a story about how she searched for those boots a couple of months and had finally found the right size, but that she was listening to a song about how God gave away what cost Him and decided that she wanted to be like God. Wow!
Well we won’t stop there. This month we will partner up with my good friend Shannon Neffendorf who owns and operates www.oakcliffcoffee.com . We will go out the next time to share some coffee and the love of Christ. We want to trust the Spirit to give us creative ways to minister to people. I don’t know what we will be doing in February. Maybe giving some roses or something like. Just want to love folks as Jesus commanded us.
There is one thing I learned. That is, we love people in spite of the responses we get back. I remember a place in Luke where Jesus heals 10 blind men. Of the 10 only one returns and Jesus asks “where are the others”. Jesus being fully divine knew and understood before He ever healed them that they wouldn’t thank Him. That they would celebrate their gift of eyesight and ignore the gift giver. However, that did not hinder Jesus from loving them by healing them. And even though many people never told Jesus “thank you” and many who were healed by Him maybe yelled “crucify Him”, his love was the determining factor not others’ response. And that is where I am today. Regardless of the appreciation, regardless of the praise or the pats on the back, I want to serve others as my Master would serve them. The entire work of redemption is a work of service on undeserving creatures – myself included – and Jesus boasts “the son of man did not come to be served but to serve”. This is not conditioned on human response but flows for His love for humanity.