I volunteer at the Ocean City Food Cupboard, which is located inside the Methodist church in town. One morning, when I left the Cupboard, I passed a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk by the parking lot.
This fellow was dressed in regular clothing and looked fed well enough, but it was obvious to me that he had no place to go. I got into my car and then looked into my wallet to see what I had available. I asked God if I should give this man money or just leave the lot, but God touched my heart that I should speak with the man.
When I drove over and inquired if he had money for food, he jumped to his feet and politely said, “No.” I held out the money and since he was smoking what looked to be an old cigarette butt, I told him not to spend it on smokes but only on food. He shook his head and said he was heading over right now to get some.
God loves these souls that cannot help themselves enough to eat well, stay warm and dry and to sometimes even hold a complete conversation.
They are still those who He created and my heart breaks for them. Not all these helpless ones are unknown to me, either.
My husband, Neil, has a sister who has lived with his mother her entire life, except for a short span in her 20s. She has mental and emotional issues that make life for her much harder than it is for us. Neil’s mother recently passed on to her heavenly home and now Jeanette will need to live on her own for the first time in many years. How frightening for her and for all of us who love her.
Fortunately, she has a daughter who was able to obtain an apartment for her and will help her adjust. That daughter, though, has a plateful already because a few years ago, when her cousin passed away from cancer, she volunteered to raise that cousin’s two young daughters when no one else was available. The girls’ upbringing and her job as a manager of a big-box lumber yard are already a lot to handle, and now her mother also needs her care.
So, we pray for Jeanette. We ask God to see her through this transition to a new way of living – alone. She is under a doctor’s care but emotionally that may not be enough.
The people God created with love are all around us. Some are superstars and some are down and out and then there are the majority of us who are in between those two levels.
The Bible tells us, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
Christians are to help those in need. This honors God.
In another passage, we are told, “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, you shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.”
There is little we can do for those in need unless Jesus is at the forefront of our actions. We can house the homeless and try to dry out the alcoholics and those with drug addictions, but they will not become whole without Jesus’ care and love.
I think of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. Not everyone who comes through those doors will get better, but they will all meet Jesus and be given the opportunity to know hope.
Some will reject Jesus (the cure) for the very same reasons the rest of us do – we’re too self-oriented to hand over our souls to the one who created us. Even so, you will hear wonderful stories at the Mission of lives turned completely around because of Jesus’ saving grace.
Faith in Jesus is the answer to the problems in the world, in our cities, and in our small towns. So, the people of Jesus do what Jesus taught. We at the Food Cupboard feed the hungry, those sweet ladies at the church cook hot meals for them, the Clothes Closet keeps them warm and their feet dry, and the Mission gives them a place to sleep. All of this is done in Jesus’ name and for His sake.
We touch those we help with the prayers that they will seek Jesus in gratitude for what they receive. This is our job – to be the hands and feet of our Savior. Let us pray for those less fortunate than us and then let us open our hearts and reach out our hands to help – because our Lord tells us to.
ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City. Email her at writerGoodGod@gmail.com.
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