On the front lines

I woke up early this morning to come into the church for something called “Homeless Connect.” Our church was hosting this event that is sponsored by the United Way of Phoenix. They bring together a ton of faith based organizations, social service agencies, and not for profits along with 200 volunteers to serve the needs of the homeless.

On this day, sponsored monthly by the United Way in various churches in the valley, the homeless are given a meal, some clothing, a shower and haircut, connections to many different helps in the community. The main thing they receive is a face to face connection with someone who will sit with them and talk with them and care for them!

I have to admit, I was blown away by this generosity! I have no idea if all the volunteers know God in a personal way but my guess would be many don’t. In fact, why would the social workers at United Way give so much of their time and energy at jobs that undoubtedly doesn’t pay that well. So, what is their motivation in coming and giving in this way? That question always gives me pause.

Here is what I am learning: all people have some kind of inherent motivation that drives them to want to give back. I think all of us have this “God spark” inside of us that causes us to want to help each other. We see it clearly demonstrated during tragedies like the 9/11 terrorist attack. New Yorkers pitched in and helped in some selfless ways. We see it during holidays when we catch a glimpse of those around us who are under-served.

These folks are on a journey to discover God more intimately. They may claim to have nothing to do with Him but their very actions betray this “God spark” that they carry. Our role as Christ followers is to help connect the dots between their hunger to help others in worse conditions than themselves and the very One who planted that desire within them.

Here’s the other thing to consider. We should be the biggest champions for those who are “down and out.” Are we on the front lines where the greatest needs exist? Am I out there meeting needs and sharing love? If people see us doing this, it will help them recognize that they are not “too far” from the very God who made them in His image and gave them with a desire to give back!

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