Not so coincidentally that evening we received a text from Marianella letting us know that she was in the neighborhood with her boyfriend, Still and wanted to know if it was okay to stop by. Nothing better for us than having some good friends over for an impromptu dinner date. I asked my husband if he wanted to put the blankets away and I think that's when it hit him that we could go together to drop off the blankets. I admit that although it was a good idea, it was a bit crazy to drive to Downtown on such a cold and dark night to give out a few spare blankets. Little did I know that what I was about to witness with my bare eyes would change my life.
Still led us around the area in which over 20 homeless men and women could be found sleeping on top of cardboard boxes, bundled up inside layers of sheets and comforters and one or two that were cozily tucked away in their sleeping bags. However there was one truth behind that didn't take much observation for us to realize about each person sleeping on the streets. Regardless of the choices they had made in life or the circumstances that forced them onto the streets, they needed help.
On this particular night we only had two thick comforters to give away and half a dozen blankets. It broke our heart to see just how many people were out in the street braving the cold temperatures on their own. It wasn't long until we ran into an everyday hero. Her name I am not so sure of but she was an average looking lady probably in her early forties who drove all the way from Ft. Lauderdale to Downtown Miami to feed the homeless warm homemade soup. This was not a one time occurrence for her, she said that she tries to go every day to feed them. It was at that very moment that we could not deny the undeniable: we had to do something about it too.
We used our Facebook statuses to get the word out and request donations of used blankets and the respond was overwhelming. People wanted to help they just didn't know how. We had friends donate anything from used sweaters, to sweat pants, t-shirts and blankets. While others agreed to let us borrow their pots so that we could prepare a warm soup. Nella prepared her first chicken soup made from scratch and Lucas made a yummy tomato soup and another cheesy mushroom soup using borrowed jumbo pots from one of our favorite cooks, Anita. Still served as the donation collection picker-upper driving to a couple of houses to pick up the blankets. This time we had a new friend who wanted to embark on this journey with us and countless others backing us up through verbal commitments expressing their desire to help.
Honestly I don't know how we will be able to keep this up week after week but I think all of us agree that we can no longer sleep comfortably at night knowing that there are so many out there without the bare essentials. It was a reality check for me in which God clearly showed me how blessed I am. Never is one more aware of how blessed he/she is until one sees the needs of others from up close.
I personally got to talk to a charismatic man affectionately referred to as 'The Hillbilly' who non-chantly said he liked drugs and that was his reason for being on the streets. He said, "It was my choice, I know." He is probably not much older than I am and he told me he has been on the streets for six years. Although I was baffled by his words and the lifestyle he had chosen to continue an addiction, I couldn't help but feel compassion for this man who owned up to his mistakes and refused to make excuses for himself. I briefly mentioned that the only way we could change was with Jesus' help. I wish I could have said more. I wish I could've done more. At this point all I know is that I will be praying for Donnie (that's his real name) and asking the Lord to perform a miracle in which God's name will be exalted. It is my desire to see Donnie rehabilitated for the glory of God. That His life's story would lead others to God's feet.
I don't believe everyone has been called to go out in the streets at night and feed the homeless. However, do believe that God clearly cares about this case and he expects each of us to do our part. I can't tell you what God would have you do but I wish I could show you some of the images which are forever engrained in our hearts, the reality that can no longer be minimized in our minds, and the great need that these people, men and women very much like you and I have. It's like that story of the boy throwing in the starfish back into the sea. He admits that he can't save all of them but he attempts to save one at a time despite the discouragement and lack of unbelief he receives from others. I wish all of us could have that same attitude. Rather than being complacent with our mediocre Christianity I wish we could really live out that Crazy Love that Francis Chan so passionately speaks of in his book. A type of love that sounds crazy to the masses but is focused on others and not merely on meeting one's own needs and fulfilling our religious duties. The kind of love that God has called us to have for others and the fervor that drives us to care for those things that break God's heart.
We may not be able to eradicate world hunger, clothe all of those that are needy or provide shelter for them but surely we can do something about it. We can help feed one more person. We can provide hope to someone who thought life was not worth living. We can share our smile and encourage someone not to give up. We can give up some of our time and invest it in eternity. Then one day we will be able to have a conversation with God similar to this one found in Matthew 25:35-40, "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (emphasis mine)
I pray that your heart will break for the things that break God's heart and that you will have the courage to do something crazy about it.