Look at the size of the crowd!” My heart sank as our van pulled up. “Do we have enough sandwiches for all these […]
Look at the size of the crowd!” My heart sank as our van pulled up. “Do we have enough sandwiches for all these people?” I asked the friend sitting next to me, shooting an anxious glance at the trays of supplies at our feet.
My real worry, though, was that I didn’t feel like helping people that night. It had been a rough week, and I had debated coming out with my church’s ministry to those who are homeless in London. What difference could I possibly make in my tired, morose state?
This particular ministry to those who are homeless had sprung from one of my church’s passions—sharing Christ in our community through practical, loving service. Members organized regular trips into London with food, clothes, and other items for those who are disadvantaged. Every month one trip was organized and carried out by young adults, and although I tried to go as often as I could, I hadn’t been out with the team for a while.
Now I shook myself into action, clambering out of the van into the jostling crowd. Immediately I spotted an old friend, and her deeply lined face lit up as she saw me.
“I haven’t seen you for such a long time!” she exclaimed. “I thought you’d moved away!”
My plastered-on smile was suddenly genuine in response to her hug. I asked about her hospitalized daughter, and we continued talking as I made hot drinks and distributed food with my teammates. Another acquaintance came over and introduced his friend, and together they told me all about the community choir they had joined. They were so excited. I felt my bad mood ebb away as I handed out cups of soup, listening to the stories of people who live on the streets. Most of them simply wanted someone to talk to.
As I listened, I remembered how I felt when I first joined this ministry: scared. How should I relate to those who are homeless? Honestly, I was used to walking past their cardboard beds and begging bowls, almost as if they weren’t there—almost as if they weren’t people. This ministry reminded me that those who are homeless are people too.
Driving home later, I knew that I had made a difference to my community, even if it was through something as simple as offering a cup of soup and a chat. My own mood had also been lifted through the love offered to and received from my friends who are homeless. I was reminded of the truth that “those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25, NLT).*
Marginalized members of society, who are so easily overlooked, are precious children of God. Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40, NIV).
I want to learn to see a brother or sister of Jesus in every human being and, through practical acts of love from me and my church, show them what their Elder Brother is like.
* Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Lynette Allcock, a graduate of Southern Adventist University, lives in Watford, United Kingdom, where she writes and teaches English as a second language to international students.