05 December 2012

Tidings of Comfort and Joy -- Heavy on the Joy!

I’m still smiling from last night’s homeless outreach.  I’ve been thinking about it since last night.  I think one of the reasons that our In His Shoes homeless outreach is so successful is that we’re “heavy on the joy".  Sure, we provide food and clothing…that’s the comfort, but nothing was more evident than the joy factor last night.

Passing out soup (this pic is from Summer when it's still
light out.
The joy started before last night.  A few nights ago, when we realized we didn’t have enough clothing to share, we put out a post on Facebook.  I was really surprised at the outpouring of love that came forward from that one post.  Friends I haven’t spoken to for months responded, dropping bags of clothing at church for us.  Sunday after church, another several bags were taken to the back of my car from parishioners who had seen the post.  Text messages bounced back and forth about sock donations, a friend’s trip to the store to buy jackets and sleeping bags for us.  People were responding out of joy and love.

And then there’s the preparation.  Our prep time takes about an hour as we gather everything we’ve collected, clothing, snacks, soup, water.  There is joy in the unwrapping of the soup containers, in the packing of the cars, and then in the distribution.  I was hearing it last night in the laughter as Suzie and her crew distributed the right item of clothing to the right person.  The joy was definitely there when we sang Silent Night or the Hippopotamus song while handing out soup out of our car, and it was there when we received the blessings and smiles of those that we helped.  You have to picture it….as we pull away, they wave at us, thanking and blessing us.  We thank and bless them in return. We are the ones that are granted this privilege to help them.

One of the regulars on the street is a missionary from Africa named Doris Dolly Dorothy.  Dressed in gleaming white with a beautiful smile, she is there on the street by choice to live a life of poverty among the least of her brothers and sisters.  Suzie shared with me her message. She never takes food from us…but gives of her smile and herself.  She shared that Thanksgiving on the street was “too much blessing” as there was an abundance of people sharing their food and blessings with the others.  She shared, “People here hate me”.  “Why?” Suzie asked.  “Because I sing and pray all day, but I’m okay with the fact that they hate me…because they hated our Lord first.”  She was comfortable in knowing that the hatred was coming from a place of not understanding.  She is there to share her inner joy with those less fortunate giving all she can of herself to them.  Like I said, she never takes food for herself, but what she will always take is a warm hug from us, her “sistahs.” She’s definitely got the JOY. 

If you are blessed with a family, you know the joy that comes from having them around.  When we go out to the streets, those of us who have been doing this for years now feel this same joy. We go out to visit our extended family.   We hear their stories – about careers that never took off, rent payments that couldn’t be met, family struggles, illness and no insurance, debt.  They are like our family, no different than any of us except for the fact that they lack the support systems that we have been blessed with.  Think about it.  If we didn’t have family or our church to lean on in these difficult times, how many of us are just one paycheck from living on the street?  There but for the Grace of God, go I.  And just like our family, they appreciate being cared about.  Not just “Here’s a cup of soup. Here's a frisbee,” but “Hey, how’ve you been?  How was your month? Are you feeling better?”  It’s not about charity, it’s about love.  And “BEING THE LIGHT and of Christ, being the vehicle for God’s love.

If any of you out there are interested in starting your own homeless outreach with your friends, family, organization but don’t know where to start, please contact me:anush@pomegranateandeye.com and I can give you some logistics help.

Some of our local radio stations have been playing Christmas Carols since Thanksgiving.  Personally, I love it (even though it’s driving my coworkers crazy).  I’m sending out Tidings of Comfort and Joy for this Christmas and well into the new year….Comfort and Joy, but extra heavy on the Joy!

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