This week I had the honor of serving Jesus by serving the homeless. Together with dear friends, I was privileged to take the church out of the four walls, into a bus, and under a bridge. I noticed the car headlights being used so people could see as they sorted T-shirts and hand them out as gifts. It was then I remembered: Jesus is the true light of men (John 1:4).
[im2] In between the terrible coughing, a little weeping, and an occasional giggle by an attender enjoying a cup of hot coffee and a Honey Bun, we listened to a great message reminding us about how David, a shepherd boy, became a king. And, we were reminded about Joseph going from a pit to a palace. I think my favorite part of the service was when someone in the First Bus Fellowship said, "Did the king get to marry the princess?" Ah, yes, the Bible truly is a love story.
During the sermon, in the bus we were reminded of how God can slay the giant "Goliaths" of our past. You know. Those giants that like to whisper, "You're stupid!" or "You'll never amount to anything!"
We learned that it's when we pick up a slingshot of FAITH and stand on the Word that we can declare, "That's it, no more. The devil is a liar and his voice I will not hear. But, I will hear the voice of my Shepherd and I will follow Him!" (See John 10:5). As we closed in prayer I noticed how pitch dark it was outside the bus, under the bridge, but I looked up at the bulbs above my head and it was then I remembered: Jesus is the true light of men (John 1:4).
Next, I had the honor of helping serve over 600 homeless friends...under the bridge. [im3] Immediately upon arrival at the event I met a gentleman who can attest to moving by faith. He was so thrilled to reach in his pocket and pull out a single key. He held up the key and explained that after living on the streets for 21 years, he had just taken a leap of faith and moved into his own apartment. As he shared the testimony, he was smiling from ear to ear. I was beaming as we chatted about rejoicing in God! Hmm, now how to get him a Christmas tree and lights? Not to worry, we'll listen to our Shepherd and come up with a plan for a surprise visit. And then, this gentleman will remember that Jesus is the true light of men (John 1:4).
[im1] During the Christmas dinner my main visible task was serving drinks. I had my part down. "Orange juice, apple juice, chocolate milk or white?" That task seemed easy, although I realized how weak my arms are. Oh, brother. The difficult tasks were looking into hollow eyes, trying to connect, smiling and saying, "Merry Christmas!" Because, as I served and smiled, I was silently wondering what the homeless truly have to be merry about? I mean, I realize there's an eternal joy, if they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But, what if they don't? And let's be real. Even if they do, what about today...they're still hungry, tired, cold and lonely. I struggled not to cry as we ran out of drinks and these people were still thirsty. I bit my lip as I walked through the crowd and heard someone say, "Hey, I didn't get any food!" My heart hurt when an elderly woman, a "friend" (Matthew 11:19) was intoxicated and had to be taken away in a squad car. I was sad when I saw middle-class dads with several hungry children to feed. These men looked totally shell-shocked by life. It was painful to see one very young man with a horrible black eye. And what do you mean, next week is "Memorial Day" for all those who died on the streets this year? JESUS!! Oh, dear Lord, it is only by Your grace that I sensed Your amazing Presence as I stood among Your friends. And, as I stared at a beautiful baby in a stroller totally decked out in Christmas lights, it was then, I remembered: Jesus is the true light of men (John 1:4).
I certainly don't have all the answers, but I most assuredly know the [im4] One who does. And, I know I can't "fix" all the problems of the world, but I can help, one friend at a time. How about you? Hey, it's difficult to know how many to plan for Christmas dinner when you can't take a home census of the homeless. There are no fancy invitations or RSVPs. So, what happens when you start with 630 plates and it seems like "all of a sudden" they are all gone, but the guests aren't? Well, might I suggest looking up to Heaven and asking for multiplication? It's worked before.
Christmas can be difficult for some...for many, actually. But if I've learned anything through the years, it's this: "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive'" (Acts 20:35). Perhaps the banquet - under the bridge - was one of the best Christmas celebrations I've ever attended. We all looked as if we were created equal in our coats, jeans and scarves...I like that. And as I looked at the huge crowd, the sunset, the city skyline and the spotlight that was set up for a few hours, it was then I remembered: Jesus is the true light of men (John 1:4).
Copyright © Paulette Reed Ministries.