February 14, 2018
When I arrive on campus, it is not unusual to find someone sleeping at the entrance to one of our buildings. They are on the concrete and huddled under a blanket. The area offers protection from the rain and wind. I never disturb them until it is time for people to need to walk through the area.
Occasionally, they will accept a cup of coffee or a pastry, but usually they depart when no one is watching. I would think their self-image is rather low. They usually are not interested in talking. Not having a place to call home for the night must be a very discouraging way to live.
Our church works hard at trying to help hurting people. We provide food boxes, do coat and blanket drives, assist with rent and utility payments, and sometimes help with medical costs. We teach Easy English classes, help children with homework after school, and encourage the use of our field as a safe place to play.
But this does not meet the needs of people who sleep outside on our porch. We know that many of them are not allowed to live in their home anymore because of addictive behaviors or because they have hurt someone. Some apparently feel no motivation to accept the help that could change their life experience.
In the process of thinking about this, my utmost concern is for their eternal destiny. How do we help them know they need Jesus in their life? Can we convince them that He loves them so much He died to be their Savior? Do they care enough to want to help, or have they given up and accepted their place in life as the way it will always be with little thought for the future?
I cannot fix the world, and I have no authority to make anyone choose the options that could change their life for the better. But this reality does not take away the hurt that I feel when I see these folks sleeping outside. I feel cold just thinking about it. And I wonder how to be more helpful.