If your family is like ours, you are ready for summer, at least spring. We are sick of winter and cold weather. Well every time I complain, I'm reminded of a group of men and women that have a bit more reason to be weary from the winter. I'm talking about the homeless in our city. Or, if you are not in Birmingham, I'm certain, your city has homeless men and women as well. If you have been downtown you've seen them. Hopelessly walking around with everything they own, on their body. We don't know what circumstances put them where they are but we are certain of a few things. They are hungry, currently they are VERY cold, lonely, and sadly, many of them lost. So here goes that uncomfortable question... "what does that have to do with us?". A lot, my friends.
Our family's first encounter with these men and women was on this past Thanksgiving Day. I won't share all the details but if you are interested you can read more about that story HERE on my daughter's blog. We made a quick trip downtown to share some cake and when we left we couldn't wait to go back.
I'm not sure how many homeless are currently in the Birmingham area; we've always found at least 25-30 and as many as 50 or more. You can find some staggering statistics on the Jimmie Hale website.
Ok, so what can we do to share the love of Christ with these very appreciative men and women? And I must say every time we go, there are more and more women amongst the group. We can share our food, our clothes/blankets, our hearts and our JESUS.
Let me answer some questions that you may have:
1. Where can you find them?
Linn Park is the most common hangout. However, we have also found them in Kelly Ingram Park as well as near the fountain in Southside.
2. What kind of food can you serve them?
Obviously, anything you want but some things that are fairly cheap and go a long way would be: pizza ($5 at Little Ceasar's), soup, sandwiches, biscuits, cake, cookies and a bottle of water or can soda.
3. How do you serve food/drinks to them?
I guess whatever you are most comfortable with. What works for us is pulling up, opening the hatch on my Yukon and setting up a make-shift buffet right out of the back.
4. What other physical needs do they have?
Sleeping bags, heavy blankets, warm coats, and back-packs to carry everything they own in.
These things would meet their most immediate physical needs but we all know that what they truly need is a Savior. Please pray for these men and women to find hope in Christ and then be willing to share it.
Two things I want to leave you with. Please visit my friend's website for Grace's Kitchen. These ladies are doing some amazing things and they also have many opportunities to serve that you may be interested in. Check it out... I promise you will be inspired by them!
Last, if you are looking for a good read and are interested in knowing more about the homeless; you have to get your hands on this book, Under the Overpass. Here is one of my favorite quotes from it:
"If we are the body of Christ-and Christ came not for the healthy but the sick- we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken."
The broken are there, let's make ourselves present.