Our church has a ministry to the homeless in Phoenix. This is something my husband decided he would like to get involved with and something that I’ve always wanted to do.
A couple of weeks ago my hubby spoke to the man who coordinates this ministry and got all the essential information. He gave the man his email address and the next day the man’s wife emailed my hubby the time/date/directions to their home.
We got up Saturday morning, thinking that we had plenty of time to get showered and dressed and over to the meeting place. Hubby decided to check the email once more for the directions and time. UH OH! We were running WAY late. We needed to be at their house at 8:45 to leave by 9:00. We thought it was 9:30 that we were supposed to leave. We decided we just couldn’t make it.
A minute later my hubby said to me, “You know, if we don’t shower right now we could probably get over there in time.” So off I went to get dressed, pulling my hair back into a pony tail. He was ready and waiting when I got downstairs and we sped off to meet the others.
We carpooled downtown to the area where we were going to hand out bags of snacks, a variety of sodas and bottled water. As we drove up the street toward the shelter, before we even got parked, a young man, obviously hurting, started tapping on the window of the car in front of us, which had our pastor and the organizer of the event in it. He shuffled back and forth on his feet, talked to them and then they pulled away and he ran back to the car we were in. Mike, the guy driving, rolled down the window an inch or so and the guy asked for a quarter. Mike told him we couldn’t give him money, but that we had snacks and water for him. Never stopping his shaky movement, the man asked if we could just buy him some crack. Again Mike told him no, but offered him the items that we brought with us. He declined and then told us he was going to steal our tires! The pain in this man’s eyes was hard to handle. He was suffering, no doubt. I said a silent prayer for him as we pulled alongside the curb and parked.
When we got out of the vehicle and unloaded the coolers and boxes the folks started coming around. I’ve never seen people so grateful! They stood in line, no pushing or shoving. They were very excited about the sodas! They were thankful for the snacks. Some of them asked us to pray for them and some blessed us as they walked away. The pain in this place was incredible, yet these people were flashing toothless grins that lit up my whole day.
One lady especially touched me. As she took her soda, a water and a bag of snacks she was grinning from ear to ear and she told me, “God had just blessed me so much today!! I’m so excited!” She reached into her pocked and pulled out a broken choker with a cross pendant. “My friend gave this to me today! And then, when I was cleaning the bathrooms, I found this!” She showed me a shiny silver coin that had John 3:16 on it. “She had tears in her eyes as she said, “And NOW you have come here to share these things with us! This day is so full of blessings!” I hugged her and she hugged me back, tightly. She thought we were the blessings, but I was the one that was blessed by her.
Many others filed in, some taking snacks and sodas to their friends who were in wheel chairs and too weak to come over. They offered to let us walk back with them to see that they were being selfish and taking more than their share!
John, the organizer, was asked by a man if he had any t-shirts or clothes, which he did. He had a couple of t-shirts and one pair of jeans. He gave them to the man and another guy walked over and asked for a t-shirt. John told him that he’d given away all that he’d brought with him and the other guy handed him one of the two shirts John had given him. “Here man, I don’t need two shirts anyway. I can only wear one at a time.” he said.
One couple that were at the halfway house spoke to my husband and Mike. They had lost everything. She had a serious heart condition and he is a convicted felon. He’s looked for jobs, but of course is having a hard time finding anything as a lot of companies won’t hire you if you have a felony record. She told us that she would evenutally have to have a heart transplant, but for now she was just taking her medicaiton and waiting. They stood there talking to Mike and my hubby for quite a while.
I watched these hurting people as we handed them the items we brought and I thought about my dad. This could be him. If it were not for the love and care of family members (mostly my uncle), my dad could be, and probably would be, one of these homeless people.
As we drove away I thought about how much I take for granted. Things like my family and friends, my home, my job, my mental and physical health and never having to worry about whether I will eat today all became so vivid in my mind and I suddenly felt more gratitude than I have in a long time! As we drove back to get our car I sat in the back seat praying for the ones that we had served, and thanking God for the blessing of being allowed to give something to these folks.
I went there to bless the homeless people of our community and instead I was amazingly blessed by them!! I can’t wait to go back!