This won't be one of my more inspiring or uplifting blogs, but it is one which I feel compelled to write.
Much of the nation has been plagued by colder-than-normal temperatures this winter, including the Mid-South, where most of the people I know live. As cranky as cold weather makes me, I find myself especially grateful for the simple things like blankets, space heaters, and hot coffee to take the unpleasant edge off the uncomfortably cool temperatures. Normally prone to complain that "I just can't get warm," I am reminded of a homeless woman I know, who has for over five years lived on the streets of suburban Memphis, seeking shelter in cheap hotels, broken down cars, and benches wherever she can find one.
*Connie is convinced that there is no help for her. She is a believer who happens to be disabled, unemployed (perhaps even unemployable), and homeless. An orphan without loving relatives who could provide the support she needs, her personality can often be abrasive and bitter, although I have known her to be pleasant on many occasions. What she lacks in education she more than makes up for in street wisdom and common sense. I know this from having spent several hours with her in the middle of the night when I took her to an emergency room for treatment of a ruptured cyst on the back of her head. Yet, she is convinced that no shelter will take her and complains that the ones that would, cost money to get into. Although she possesses a survivor mentality that has served her well during her time on the streets, Connie is suffering. Pride has kept her from seeking the help she truly needs from agencies that could provide not only shelter and food but also direction toward getting treatment for her physical and mental issues. She feels abandoned and hopeless.
As I sit in my half-empty suburban home, thankful for shelter from the bitter cold, I pray for her and search for ways to help people like Connie. I wonder how many of us go about our days without giving much thought to those who live in frigid desolation with very little hope. And like you, I find myself asking, "What can I possibly do to help? I have no bed to offer. I work and cannot open my home to someone then leave them unsupervised while I am away. I don't want to take in someone who in reality needs a whole lot more help than I can offer." Therefore I do nothing. I pray, but is that enough? I give to shelters and charities that supply the services I feel I can't, but is that enough?
Honestly, I have had many conversations with God about the plight of the homeless and in particular, our friend Connie. Why, in a nation as blessed as ours, are so many people living on the streets? Why aren't there enough shelters to take in the homeless? The Bible says that the poor will always live among us, but is that any excuse for not doing more than we do to ease their suffering?
I don't know why I wrote this. Perhaps it was to ease my own guilty conscience or maybe, just maybe, God wants to raise awareness that the homeless ones like Connie are created in His image just as we are. What can we do to help ease their suffering? Those of us with children would never want to see our kids living homeless on the streets. Is God any different? What can we do to help His children who are homeless and without refuge?
If you have a chance to help someone today, whether or not they are homeless, make the most of that opportunity. As you minister to them, invite them to seek refuge in the Savior whose glorious riches supply all your needs.
*Name changed to protect her identity.
Copyright © 2014 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com
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