Merry Christmas. As I said, God has a way of changing my plans. After all, it is His will, not mine. So this blog will continue. And the others will as well. If I can reach just one person with His Word, through whatever means, then it is well worth keeping that line open.
A friend of mine that I met in a shelter experienced the greatness of God’s grace and blessing this week, just two days before Christmas. Alecia has been homeless for about two years, if I understand her story. She has a 14 year old daughter. She left an abuser who uses meth, and her son also is using meth. She left with what she had in her car. Because of her situation and some of the events that she witnessed, she found herself in a mission for a while. Until she didn’t qualify to be there, and that is a blog for another time, not Christmas day. Alecia and her daughter believed that God would intervene. They found themselves without a home just before Thanksgiving. They did get some assistance from Salvation Army for about two weeks, and stayed in a really low class motel. When you are out on the streets, you don’t look at the atmosphere, you tend to overlook the filth, the roaches, the silverfish…it’s a little difficult to overlook the bedbugs, and you thank God for the shelter of a roof and a door that can be locked. Being a homeless woman is hard. You can sleep in your car if you have one and if you know you are safe. You look for a couch and couch surf. You seek the help of family, if you can, if they are supportive, you rely on friends. When you are alone without resources, the only One you can rely on is Jesus. And God. Alecia spend weeks on the parking lot of Walmarts while her daughter was able to stay in school by staying with girlfriends. Alecia finally gave it over to God to find them someplace to stay. And just that fast, just that quickly, something happened.
There are still kind people in this world. A man named Richard is one of them. Richard had a two bedroom apartment available. He was asking about $800 a month, including utilities. Alecia does not have income, she has disability and other community resources, and qualifies for section 8 assistance, but you have to wait. That could take years on that list for section 8 housing. Alecia told Richard her story, and God touched Richard’s heart. Alecia’s voucher for housing was around $650 and she truly was looking only for a one bedroom apartment. Richard agreed to letting Alecia and her daughter have the two bedroom apartment, if he could pass section 8 inspection-which happened in just one day, and with knocking off $200 from the rent. He did a wonderful Christian thing. He heard Alecia’s need, and gave them a home off the streets, in time for Christmas.
There is truly kindness in each of us. God planted that in us when He created us. Compassion, love, caring. All our emotions, God gave them to us. What we fail to do is recognize that we are still God’s creation. We turned from Him long ago….first the Israelites in spite of blessing after blessing. Now, after the birth and resurrection of the perfect sacrifice, Jesus, we still turn our back on them. We tend to find our compassion and kindness at Christmas. Christmas isn’t about Santa and the greed that is generated from gift giving and feeling like we are compelled to give when we don’t feel it or have the means to give. It is entirely about God’s unending love and compassion for us and this earth when we so deserve to be destroyed. He truly wants us to find Him again. To be like Jesus, who is our example and came to teach us first hand of how we are supposed to be. Jesus taught us to love one another as we would love ourselves, to do to others what we would have done for ourselves. That is Christmas. And we need to act like it is Christmas in that love and compassion every day. To reach out to those who need help, in big or small ways.
Richard reached out to Alecia in compassion and Christian love. She has experienced the grace and mercy of God through Richard’s kindness. I met Richard. He is a simple man, drives a 15 year old SUV, older middle aged. We all need to take a page from his example and spread that kindness. Alecia has been praising God and thanking him for three days now. Each day brings her more blessings, gift cards for furniture and trash cans, food, a Christmas tree. It isn’t about how much we get in this life. It’s about how much we give. You know what Alecia is doing today? She is having a Christmas meal and inviting all the marginalized people she knows to come. She is feeding the masses, just like Jesus did. And that is what it is all about.
Homeless people, by and large, do NOT want to live on the street. They don’t. It’s not safe, people are cruel, there’s theft, disease…..but they are the ones that Christ would be ministering to right now. He said “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19). If we truly want to be Christ-like, that is what we need to do. Please let Christmas live in your heart every day, all year. There is hope for us all, we need to take time to bring that hope to others when we can in the way that God tells us.
God bless you all. Merry Christmas.
Pastor Sylvia Tree of Hope Ministries.