Just the other day I (Michelle Peel in Alumni) received the letter below from an alum who, because she's getting involved with this year's PDX Chapter Event, began seeing another woman's need in a new light.
I wanted to share something with you as you guys at Multnomah pray for Downtown Compassion. So today I was on my way to a store and as always, there was a homeless person sitting by the curb with a cardboard sign. I don't know about you, but every time I am confronted with this scenario I try to avoid looking at the person and just keep going my way. Even though I know that as a Christian I shouldn't close my eyes to needy people around me, I have to admit that, when you see them everywhere and all the time, it gets easier and easier to make excuses and rationalize why I am not responsible to help them (at least not every time I see them), or how it wouldn't make that much difference anyway if I gave them some change. I know, so ungodly right? But maybe I'm not the only Christian who feels and acts this way.
Anyway, I'm currently reading a book "The Hole in our Gospel" by Richard Stearns (current president of World Vision), and it's made me cry a lot/grieve over poverty and poor people and what God expects of us regarding this. So when I saw this young woman sitting on the ground with a cardboard sign in her hand, I decided to at least look at her. She actually said "hi" to me, so I said hi back. While I was browsing around the store, I couldn't get the girl out of my mind, and then I heard a voice in my head saying, "Invite her to the compassion clinic". I knew without a doubt it was God. And surprisingly, I didn't argue with him; instead I thought, "what a great idea".
So I rehearsed in my head what I should do and say. I took out all the change in my wallet and went to the girl. I looked at her sign which said, "It costs $18 a night to stay at a motel room". As I put my coins into her pretty empty plastic tub, I asked her "What's your name?" She seemed surprised but said "Karen". I told her my name and asked her if she needed any medical care. She said no, but I proceeded to tell her anyway about the upcoming clinic. When I mentioned that there was going to be a dental clinic, her eyes lit up and she asked more about it, because her husband needs to get a tooth pulled. She asked again when it was, etc. and I felt really happy that I was able to provide her with more than some loose change.
When I walked away, I felt tempted to pat myself on the back, but I challenged myself instead, "why don't you do it more often then? you could at least look at homeless people and greet them, acknowledge their presence and humanity". So this is something I need to work with God towards.
I'm sharing this with you to ask you to pray for Karen and her husband, that they will indeed make it to the clinic and that they will experience God's love and hope through his people serving them. Also, feel free to share this story with other believers in your sphere, because I really hope that others might be challenged and opened to how God might prompt them too to reach out to the needy in their daily lives (not just on "special" occasions or outreaches).
MBS Grad Cert Alum '04