My heart aches from an experience last night. I was going to prayer meeting at the church and saw a man I knew as Rod going through a box on the bench in front of the soup kitchen. I thought it may be a donation that had been left there. “No,” he said, it was a food box given to a homeless couple. He was delivering it for them. I froze. I had seen a couple sitting there a lot lately. The day before, I caught the man smoking pot and asked him to leave.
“Times are real bad right now for a lot of people,” Rod explained. “It is hard out here on the street.” He, too, was homeless but he had a bicycle he could transport their box with. “I’m just trying to do the right thing by helping.” He watched me as I fumbled for words. I was on the spot and he waited to see what I would do. I walked inside the church, allowing the couple with their dog to resume their place on the bench beneath the “no dogs” sign.
These are the type of people Jesus sought out to minister to. They need our acceptance as much as they need our hot meals and our bench to sleep on. They also need a bathroom, which is available at the gas station next door but someone has been using a convenient area behind the recycle bin. The dog left its own “presents” around the parking lot even after I previously asked the lady to clean up after him.
I joined my friends inside but my mind remained on the lady outside. She and her friend were breaking the rules. If I were in her situation, I would want my dog as a source of comfort. She never cleaned up after him, but she always looked tired and seldom spoke when spoken to. My autoimmune disorder leaves me very tired most of the time however I have a nice home to retreat to. I couldn’t imagine what her life was like. I couldn’t pray for her then ask her to leave when I knew she had nowhere to go. By the time I headed out to talk to her, three more men had joined them.
I waited for one of the women in the prayer group to go with me. We told them they could rest there but they couldn’t stay. “City Ordinance” we said. Hypocrite! That’s how I feel. I pray that I have another chance to talk with her. How I wish there was a shelter in town for the homeless!
Would you allow the homeless to camp on church property? What should I have done?