I had one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life this past Saturday that I will never forget and I am still on cloud nine because of it. But my heart is broken at the same time.
I volunteered with Operation Care Dallas to help in giving a Christmas party for the homeless of our city. The theme this year was “Operation Call Home - A Christmas to Remember.” Phones were set up for the homeless guests to call families (free of charge) in hopes of being reunited.
Many area churches and businesses partner with First Baptist Church in Dallas for this event every year. It all started with one beautiful lady, Susie Jennings who handed out blankets to the homeless out of the trunk of her car several years ago.
Thousands of homeless people flooded the Dallas Convention Center early Saturday morning and stood in long lines in freezing temperature to be treated for the day. As they entered the building every person was given a new bible. There were volunteers to wash their feet and give them a new pair of socks and shoes. Hair stylists were there to give them free haircuts. Doctors, dentists and optometrists donated their time to do medical, dental and eye screenings. They were given blankets, coats, sleeping bags, personal care items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. The Texas Baptist Men Organization fed them a hearty lunch of beef stew. Santa and Mrs. Claus were there for the children to have their picture made. There was toys for the tots and an indoor petting zoo and pony rides.
It was a wonderful event and one that opened my eyes and changed my heart. I have always had the secret impression that homelessness is a choice - that people are in that situation because they are lazy or alcoholics or drug addicts. I now know that while this may be true for some, it is certainly not true for all of them. I saw families, the elderly, and men and women of all races who have fallen on hard times. It made me realize even more so how much God has blessed me and my family. It made me so grateful for my home and a warm bed to sleep in. I heard someone say that the average person is only three paychecks away from being homeless. It could happen to any one of us.
It got me to thinking; isn’t it our job as the body of Christ to help these people get on their feet again? Especially the ones who want to be self sufficient. We cannot continue to look the other way and expect our government to carry the complete load. Some of these people just need a helping hand. They need to know someone cares, someone loves them. Is the church being all we are supposed to be? Or are we being like the Levite who passed by on the other side of the road?
I think one of the biggest dangers in our churches today is the focus on ourselves, our activities, our own members. Sure, it’s great to have church activities - but are we truly loving our neighbors the way Jesus taught? Who are our neighbors?
At this party I was blessed to be a part of the evangelical team who ministered to these people by sharing a simple presentation of the gospel. The Holy Spirit was present and allowed me the pleasure of leading two precious men to Jesus. I was nervous about it at first. I went with the intention of helping out with the children. But was coaxed into the witness team, so there I was - right in God‘s plan. While I had the opportunity to speak to about 18 - 20 people, there were two that were so hungry for hope - hope only Jesus can give. I heard stories that broke my heart. Most of them just needed to talk to somebody that cared and Jesus gave me so much love for them it was unbelievable. My heart was so blessed by these people, so touched with their raw honesty. They are seeking God but a lot of them just don’t realize it. They have been on the streets too long, they have been forgotten, abused, and so very discouraged with life itself.
There are so many that need to know the love of Jesus. It is our duty as followers of Christ to show them His love. They are empty inside and so thirsty and hungry. Hungry for the Bread of Life, thirsty for the Living Water. There is a song by Casting Crowns that says; “If we are the Body, why aren’t His arms reaching, why aren‘t His hands healing, why aren‘t His words teaching? If we are the Body, why aren‘t His feet going, and why is His love not showing?”
Think about it……
I will do it again. God has opened my eyes and I cannot close them again. I cannot look the other way.
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Thank You for sharing such a Beautiful moving testimony of what our Lord is doing in Your life,your aointed piece brought tears to my eyes...Yes, there are sooooooooooo many precious hurting souls and the Father calls us to reach out to them with His Love.What Joy to have the privelege of leading a precious soul to Christ!
Merry CHRISTmas to You and Your Family,
With Much Love in Christ Jesus,
John 3;16&Numbers 6,24,25,26
Our family had the opportunity to serve the homeless. It was truly an eye-opening experience. It makes you feel guilty for all the things we waste or take for granted. It was a wonderful experience for our children also- they need to be aware of the needs in our community. Our outreach wasn't as large as the one you experienced, we made sandwiches, served them- ate with them talked with them and then helped in the Church service that evening. We all need to do our part in helping in some way those who are in need. But not just during the holiday season- all year long! Love Danette