Published Nov. 5, 2013

Shelia Shares....
"Reaching Out"

On October 24 on my Facebook page I posted the following:

"On tonight's 3 1/2 mile walk through the city, we had one request for money (gave a Gospel of John with a dollar bill bookmarking John 3:16), found a penny and found a graduation tam with tassel.

"The tam with tassel belonged to a professor who will represent the Lancaster Theological Seminary at the inauguration of the Millersville University President tomorrow. He thinks it was on the top of his car and blew off. We contacted him and he came by to pick it up. The penny joined the rest of my change. The first man seemed pleased to have gotten a dollar rather than the change he asked to get."

On October 25, I posted the following:

"Tonight's walk included seeing the same man that we gave the Gospel of John to last evening. He asked for money and when we stopped walking, he recognized us right away. His first words were, ‘She read your book last night,' as he pointed to his wife. She chipped in with, ‘I read it all the way through. There was nothing else to do.' And then followed a great 15-minute conversation. Interesting to see who God places in our pathway. Say a prayer for Tomes and Christine, sleeping outside on this chilly evening."

Following is the Facebook trail of comments on this...

SLR: "Praying.... that's awesome that you all were able to witness to them!!!"

I responded: "Everyone has a story. Proudly he showed us his card from when he lived in NYC and helped at a food kitchen. Now he is homeless, eating where there are free meals at churches and living on the streets."

MG: "They have got to be freezing out there... it is SO cold here. Humbled at the things I take for granted."

PG: "I feel so sorry for the homeless. I've been praying what I should do to help them, but I haven't found the answer yet."

JTH: "Makes me thankful for my many blessings!"

I responded: "They both had nice sleeping bags that someone gave them. They only sleep about an hour at a time for fear someone will take their possessions. Never thought about that."

PT: "A good sleeping bag would be in high demand for another homeless person to steal. It is curious as to why folks like that don't want to stay in a shelter. Especially in cold weather like PA."

My response: "They are from NYC and don't have ID from PA yet so they can't stay in the shelters."

I shared this for several reasons. It was not because I want you to think that we are out doing such a great job in our community. We aren't. But, when God places people in our paths, we do try to show Jesus' love to them.

Probably wherever you live, there are people who are homeless or in need. What can you do to help them?

Our dollar we give isn't much. But, if enough people gave a single dollar, it would add up for the person. No one can help everyone, but each one can help someone.

The Gospel of John is our way of letting people know why we are willing to acknowledge them. It is not natural love, but the love of Jesus that flows through every Christian.

We have found that more than the money, people need someone willing to listen to their "story." So many people pointedly ignore or politely ridicule the homeless. When someone takes the time to stop and listen, it seems to mean a lot. (Of course, this is our home city. I am not sure I would be as comfortable talking with everyone on the streets in Philadelphia.)

This couple, Tomes and Christine, told us they never expected to be living on the streets. Their social security checks had not come through yet and their PA ID cards were still being processed. They knew their situation would improve, but this was a bad time for them. Even though we had no strings we could pull to help them, they seemed encouraged that for a second evening, we were willing to stop and be listening friends.

What can we do to help people who have needs? Do we listen to people – what they say and what they don't say – so we see the needs in their lives? Even if we have little, generally we have more than someone. Are we willing to give? Are we willing to take time for an "undesirable" or "outcast" type person? Do we see these hurting people as people or problems?

God looks at each of us and sees the person He created. God reaches for each of us with love. God knows the value of a soul and overlooks the outward man. Pray that we will each be able to see as God sees. Thank Him for seeing you as important – important enough that He would die for you. Look at others through the eyes of Jesus.

- Shelia

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