A Guaranteed Meal.
Every Wednesday night, a group of around 75-100 homeless people come together at Green Street Church of Christ for a time of worship and dinner. This evening, our church was asked to help provide & serve the meal as well as do their children’s church. I went not knowing what to expect. I was not anxious. I did not have any worries about my children. And, I certainly did not know that my family would leave there changed by this experience.
These past few weeks have been difficult for my family. It was painful to leave Joplin, MO shortly after the tornado hit. I felt guilt, alone, and pulled in many directions. Questions like, “What are you doing, Lord?” “Why do we have to leave now?” plagued my mind constantly. A very wise woman told me that there are people hurting everywhere. I knew she was right, but tonight I realized how right she was.
During the worship time, I was with the children helping Judy (team member) with the lesson. To be honest, I was really just trying to keep my 2 & 3 yr olds to stay with the group. I watched my 6 year old make friends with a little boy, will call him “J”. I questioned their talks that I could not hear and I prayed that the Lord would protect my son’s ears from anything that was unholy.
At one moment during the children’s time outside, a woman who was strung out on some kind of drug, started to walk towards my 2 year old. I stepped in between them. I heard another young woman call out to the ‘lady in charge’ to get this woman out of here. And at that moment, I felt an intense urge to be ready to attack. This is my child and I will protect him at any cost. I am his Mommy, that’s just what I do.
I was relieved that I didn’t have to let the warrior inside of me loose. She was quickly steered away and taken somewhere else. I kept my eye out for her, but didn’t see her the rest of the evening.
After the service was over, all who attended were invited to stay for dinner. It was held in a dark, musty dining area. The tables and chairs were old, wobbly, and needed to be replaced. I looked around the room and had it redecorated in my mind in a matter of 10 seconds. I had to quickly refocus myself while putting on my gloves to serve the noodles. I thought to myself, “seriously, Jackie, they don’t need an interior designer right now, they need food”.
The line went through rather quickly, but I still had a few seconds to meet and talk with a few people. Some didn’t want to talk. There was a lady holding her child who would not answer a single question, she just looked at me. So, although it was awkward, I smiled and found someone to help carry her plates. I, also, met a man from New York who writes in a newspaper that the homeless sell on the streets. He was quite a character.
Then, there was this very, large in stature woman who told me several different times that she thought my baby Clara (7 months) was adorable and that she was going to take her. At one point, I looked at her and jokingly said that there would be a fight. (Okay, no really….I wasn’t joking, but she didn’t need to know that unless it came down to me busting out my claws.)
When the line had passed, it was time for a few of us to go through and grab a plate. I had been vigilant at keeping a close watch on each of my children. But at this moment, I couldn’t find Clara, who had been asleep and strapped in her car seat. My chest had never felt so heavy. My limbs began to shake. I asked several around me if they had seen her. They didn’t know where she was. “Oh, what I have I done?” “Not this!! No!!” You know, it’s crazy how a matter of seconds can feel like eternity.
One of the other team members had been watching her while she slept under the table, just a couple of feet from me. I didn’t know that my husband had this all under control. I had to walk away and cry. “Thank you, Jesus!!”
(Here’s another honest moment, I was ready to go at this point.)
Once we were finished with the clean-up and home for the evening, Sergio and I talked about Josiah’s new friend, “J“. “J” is seven years old and is such a sweet little guy. His father is in jail and his mother’s location is unknown. He had attended with a lady that nearly bit my husband’s head off for simply asking if “J” could come over to play sometime. I don’t really blame her, she doesn’t know us.
I will tell you this, we are praying for “J” and I feel a peace in me that he will someday come over to play. We just have to turn that lady’s frown upside down. (Ok, cheesy, I know, but don’t judge. I am a mom of 4 kids under the age of 6.) J
As Sergio was tucking Josiah into bed, they spoke about “J” and his home life. And with heavy hearts, a prayer was lifted up for him. “Lord, you know his situation. You know that he isn’t guaranteed a daily meal. Please, Father, we cry out to you that you will provide what this little boy needs. Provide food, provide water, provide clothes, and provide family and friends who love You. And may our paths continue to cross. In Jesus name, Amen.”
It is hard for me to sleep tonight. I keep thinking about “J” and others like him. I just told God that this is not right. It’s not fair that this innocent child has to suffer like this. “What am I suppose to do for “J”? How can I help him as well as others?”
And almost immediately, I have been reminded of His response.
It goes like this,
“..the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
We will be back to Green Street Church of Christ. We will provide and serve a guaranteed meal to the needy. We will go and build relationships with those who Jesus loves. We will live a missional life and we will live it together.
This is the beginning of wonderful journey, I just know it.