Yolanda and I participated in an outreach to the homeless of Denver this weekend and it was exhilarating. I LOVE being able to connect with people who don’t need a handout as much as a firm handshake, eye contact, maybe a hug and a smile to let them know that someone cares about where they are in life. Yolanda and I helped hand out shoes to people and to hear the thankfulness in the voices of people we helped was priceless.
I am not writing this blog to try and make myself look good or to guilt others into doing something in their community to help people in need. I want to bring up a few points to consider while helping people who are homeless or just in transition in their lives.
1. Don’t treat the homeless LIKE human beings treat them AS human beings
People who are homeless are not a lower level than anyone else and deserve the respect of people who are volunteering in some way. The best way you show respect is by not patronizing or taking down to them. Ask them their name, shake their hand and make eye contact. You would be AMAZED at what a smile and a firm handshake will do for someone.
2. Ask them to tell you their story and JUST LISTEN
Yolanda and I sat with two girls during lunch and had them tell us their story. We just sat and listened to them and let them know we were there to support them. Not to preach to them. Not to make sure they cross the proverbial “Jesus finish line” to make sure they were going to heaven. Just to listen to them and be a part of their journey in life. An important thing to remember is that showing love and meeting a practical need in someone’s life can speak more “Jesus” to someone than all the talking in the world. Yolanda and I love people first and let them ask us why we do the things we do. Jesus always comes up in conversation and we didn’t have to force any “religion” on people.
3. Don’t just help during the holidays
It is easy to get motivated to help during the holidays but the fact is that people are not just homeless and/or hungry during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. All of these organizations need help year round and would gladly accept the volunteer help at other times than just the end of the year. I think there is a Godly impact in a person’s life who commits to helping year round and not just as a give back during obvious months. The TRUEST form of being like Christ is looking for those in need and filling that need.
Have a great holiday season and I encourage each of you to look for ways to go outside yourself and meet practical needs in your community and then continue those things year round. Remember what Jesus did when he interacted with people; He met the practical need FIRST and that was the path to helping meet the deeper Spiritual needs.