Sunday, December 22, 2013

What I learned on Skid-Row

Last night my husband and I watched a documentary called ‘LOST-ANGELS: Skid Row is My Home’.  That seems like an odd pick for a Saturday night by the fire but the past several months God has taken us down an unforeseen road and we have had the opportunity to minister in Downtown Amarillo to people who are either homeless or in dire poverty.  We chose this documentary hoping it could give us some insight into a world we are unfamiliar going into.  Here is a summation of what God is teaching us in this new ministry encounter:

In the documentary you meet a lady who has government housing but prefers to stay out on the street most nights.  She pushes around a large shopping cart filled with trash.  She loves cats and birds and spends every day walking the 50 blocks that Skid-Row occupies in LA feeding them.  I started thinking of the times I have encountered the homeless population whether in Dallas, New Mexico, or 6th street in Austin.  I have seen SEVERAL people pushing carts filled with trash; I have to wonder, why?  Why is a cart filled with trash so important to them?  As Roman and I discussed it, he said, “We all do the same thing.”  Then today in my Word time the Lord confirmed this to me.  Let me explain.  The Word tell us:

Matthew 6:19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves.

But what do we all do?  We store things up and pack them into our garage, attic, storage unit, junk drawer, hall closet, lay-away, etc, etc, etc.  Most of these things we never look at once they are packed away yet we refuse to get rid of them.  Is it possible that the extra coffee pot I have had stashed in the garage for 5 years looks the same to God as her cart of trash looks to me? Temporary and of no real value.  Perhaps I am more like this woman than I thought as I too am guilty of storing up  "Treasure/Trash" here on earth.

As I read on from Matthew 6 the Lord highlighted this verse to me. 

Verse 25- 25 "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life -- whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. . .
In my last post I shared about the gift I received from a homeless man.  This man has become very precious to my family, in-fact, we now consider him family.  I went to see him earlier this week.  The downtown resource center was having a Christmas party for those that they serve.  Each person was given a bowl of cheese nachos and two cookies.  My friend offered me some of his nachos and gave me one of his cookies.  NOW, think about this.  That was more than likely the ONLY meal he would get that day and he did not know if there would be one tomorrow, yet he offered some to me!  Perhaps he understands the Words of Jesus in Matthew 6 better than I do.  (This week I worried that we might have to “dip” into savings to pay the doctor bill for our sick kids).

After my friend offered to share his meal we walked back to his storage bind.   It is a plastic tub the size that I pack my kids summer shorts in.  It holds EVERYTHING he owns.  He pulls out five red Christmas stockings that he has purchased for my children, my husband, and myself.  Mathew 6 goes on to say:
31 "So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. 32 Why be like THE PAGANS who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, 33 and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
If this had not shown me the true nature of God, the lesson is not over yet.

This man has my husbands phone number.  He has medical issues and is crippled.  We have asked him repeatedly to call us if he needs anything, yet he has never called. . .until Friday.  All three of my kids got the flu this week.  It is contagious a full seven days.  We had invited our friend to come to Christmas Dinner but had to leave a message with the shelter that due to the illness in the home we would need to reschedule with him for New Years.  That is when the phone call came.  Not a complaint that he may not have a warm home or meal on Christmas.  Not a call to tell us of his medical needs.  He called to check up on our family and prayed God to bless us.

So for all my learning about homelessness: whether in Downtown Amarillo, or on Skid-Row Los Angeles;  I suppose the Lord has me there not to minister, but to learn what it is to be more Christ like. . .after all. . .Jesus Himself was a homeless man.

Matthew 8:19 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go!" 20 But Jesus said, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head."