If you have never read the best selling Same Kind of Different As Me, GET IT--
READ IT! The book is based upon the ministry in this blog AND it is a wonderful book.
After a LONG HOT summer here in Texas--I am thankful for fall and the beginning of the school year and mentoring/tutoring my sweet little student. I became convinced that was not enough--and then through a series of God-incidences--I sent in an application to volunteer at Union Gospel Mission here in Fort Worth.
One Hundred and Twenty Five years of history---this is a HUGE ministry and more important--it is changing lives-one person at a time. Several buildings and a new women's residence being constructed--the campus is sprawling. As I drove through the gated parking lot for my orientation, I experienced a myriad of sights, sounds, and smells that left me breathless as if I had been gut-kicked-transported from the good life to the hardest of lives.
Located on the other side of downtown from my abode--but only three short miles away--I left the world of comfort and plenty and entered the neighborhood of want, need, hunger, illness, and sometimes not so quiet desperation. As I drove down the street leading to the campus, I was greeted by lines of people on both sides of the street--their meager piles of belongings at their feet--standing--waiting for the doors to be opened. The sight of the black plastic bags, frayed and torn bags lining the boulevard and every side street for several blocks began my orientation into the world of the homeless and all that it entails.
As we toured the facility, I caught glimpses of the mother with the week -old tiny baby passing in the hall, the young mother with her three children in tow, the young-the old--and all in between walking past reminded me of the blessing of my bungalow and space to call my own. It is a complicated mission---with many facets--but it is a well oiled machine--with the goal of feeding the body and spirit as well.
My orientation class was filled with men and women--young and old---nationals and internationals, black and white, from all walks of life and differing socio-economic levels. Everyone was there for one purpose--to serve. I struck up a conversation with one of the women---and she had been a resident in the facility ---when a teen-more than twenty years ago---she and her entire family. She had returned to give back.
As we entered the chapel where services are held several times everyday, there was the lingering smell of sweat and mustiness that comes from being out in the Texas heat and sitting shoulder to shoulder with a closed door. Everyone is required to attend chapel---filling their spiritual bellies is as important as their physical stomachs. It was only a room--but a room whose mission was the gift of hope.
Something tells me I will revisit this subject---God has opened the door to teach me more. I walked away last night with the clear knowledge--I need to get my eyes off my navel---and have a BIG reality check. There is a HUGE world filled with hurt and need---I only have to step out of my zip code to find it.
AND THIS IS THE WHY---
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.