Monday, January 23, 2012

Ramen noodles and Jesus

Most of the time when I am in my car I listen to 80's rock and roll. I have written several blogs related to 80's songs but this one is not an 80's song, it is a contemporary Christian song by Jaci Velasques. I was riding to work the other day and the song was playing. I did not pay it much attention until it got to the following verses. These verses immediately grabbed my attention, take a look and I will continue below.
I wanna cross a border line
And walk on dusty floors
Give up two weeks of my life
Feed the hungry, clothe the poor
I wanna drive up to a homeless man
Holding up a sign
Hand him my only twenty
God bless him as I say good-bye
But more than this...

I wanna give them hope
I wanna give them peace
I wanna give the greatest of these
Give them love, love
I wanna tell the truth
And lead them to the light
And tell them everything will be alright
Give them love, Give them Jesus
Why did these verses strike a chord with me? I think it is because I and several friends work at a local mission outreach that ministers to the homeless, the poor and the downtrodden. When I first got involved we simply brought can goods and other non-perishables and handed them out to whoever showed up. After several months of doing this we looked at each other and asked a simple question. Is this it? Is this all we have to offer these folks, a can of beans and a bag of Ramen noodles? What good are we doing if we feed them physically while they are starving spiritually. Will they simply enter the gates of hell with a full stomach!?

We decided that we would show up a few minutes earlier than the rest of the crowd, bring some coffee and read God's word. We started out with maybe five people showing up for coffee and the Word. Now we are seeing over 40 people show up to an empty parking lot, have coffee and hear the word of God spoken into their lives every Saturday morning. We are getting to know these people and the issues they are struggling with. We are now meeting their needs both physically and spiritually. We are helping guys like Jerome get a bike so he can get around town. We are try to help Vern who has a problem with the bottle. We are getting men like Clifford get back in school so he can get an education and get back on his feet. We are getting Ricky a new watch after he was beaten by some fellow homeless guys and had much of his stuff taken. But we are also praying for and with these guys. We are sharing the Gospel with them every Saturday.

A verse that sums up the feelings I had at the time comes from Mark 6:
Mark 6: 34 - When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
God has shown me that yes he does want us to take care of the physical needs of those around us but not at the expense of the spiritual needs. I want to do what Jaci sings about in that last verse of her song. We want to give them all these things but the most important thing we can give them is Jesus.

My intention is not to pat myself on the back or boast about what we are doing. My hope is that some of you who read this will realize this is not the pastor's responsibility, this is not something you have to be trained to do, this is not something you have to be gifted at. This is simply looking around your community and seeing where you can get plugged in and show people the truth, the light and the love of Jesus.

If you are already doing this,I would love to hear from you, hear some of your stories and what you are involved with in your local communities.

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