Greetings from the sunshine state of Florida! No, Soaring Wings Ministries has not relocated to Florida. We are still located on the beautiful prairie land of Wellington, Colorado and things are still in full swing serving the homeless in Northern Colorado. My husband, Ed, and I are spending some time here with Ed's mother and visiting our son. We are enjoying our time with family very much while at the same time moving forward with Soaring Wings Ministries. We are so grateful to our daughter, Meredith, for keeping things running smoothly on site at Trinity Lane and also very grateful for modern technology which allows us to keep up with our work for Soaring Wings Ministries.
One of the things that we have continued while far away from Colorado is the ministry of handing out Blessing Bags. Colorado does not have the market on homelessness and as we have traveled across country and spent time here in Florida we see people in need wherever we go. We keep our truck well stocked with Blessing Bags and have had to make some trips to Walmart and to the Dollar Store to keep up with our supply of Blessing Bags. As is always the case in handing out Blessings Bags there is always one homeless person who captures my attention and my heart and reminds me why we are in the business of reaching out to the homeless.
Most recently we were traveling through Orlando after dropping family off at the airport. Since we are not familiar with the area we turned on the GPS to help us find our way. The GPS did not direct us to any highway but rather took us on SR 50. State road 50 is a very nice rural route in some parts of Florida but SR 50 traveling through Orlando after leaving the airport at 5 pm was not a good route. There was heavy traffic with one stop light after another and the road was not taking us through a very nice part of town.
As we were stopped for a traffic light in downtown Orlando we saw a young man with a cardboard sign walking down the middle of the three lane road. He was a younger man in his 20's and he had on dirty jeans, a T-shirt and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head. As were were stopped for the light he was quickly approaching our truck and I have to honestly say that my first instinct was to make sure that the truck doors were locked. Here I am one of the founders of Soaring Wings Ministries and my first reaction, as a homeless man approached us for help, is to make sure the doors are locked. I am so thankful for my caring, thoughtful and generous husband who first thinks of others rather than himself. His first instinct, in seeing this homeless young man, was not to lock the doors but rather to reach in the back seat for a Blessing Bag. As the homeless young man approached our truck window, my husband, Ed, rolled down the window. I thought to myself, "What in the world is my husband doing rolling down the window! I am trying to lock the doors and he is rolling the window all the way down!! Can't he just crack the window a little bit and shove the Blessing Bag out through the crack!". Here we are in a lousy, unfamiliar neighborhood stuck in traffic at a traffic light and my husband is rolling the window all the way down to help a person in need! Before I knew it there was a young man with his hood pulled up over his head standing outside of our truck window. I could see his face clearly and it is in that moment of looking directly into his face that I saw not the issue of homelessness but I saw a homeless person....a homeless human being. As I looked into his face I saw a handsome face and a kind smile but it wasn't his handsome face or kind smile that impressed me but rather that this young man looked directly at us with clear, blue eyes. That this young man would look directly at us to thank us for the Blessing Bag made a huge impression on me. He was so very grateful for the Blessing Bag and was especially grateful for the socks. His comment to us was, "Wow...socks. I really needed socks." He thanked us for the Blessing Bag and walked away to what I assumed would be the next car but as the light turned green and we pulled away I saw that this young man was no longer begging with his sign. Rather he was walking on the sidewalk with his cardboard sign tucked under his arm and he was looking at the contents of the Blessing Bag. Once again we had reached out to someone in need with the simple gesture of a Blessing Bag and once again this simple gesture had given someone a few moments of reprieve from their homeless life style. As we drove away and continued on SR 50 we left the congestion of busy downtown Orlando and made our way out into the rural area of Florida. I was so grateful that my husband had taken the time to roll down his window to help this homeless young man. As always, I wished that we could have done more to help him but I will never forget his face, his smile, his gratitude and his manners for looking directly into our eyes to say thank you. I pray that God will watch over this young man and that God will protect and bless him. I also pray that God will bring people into his life who can walk along beside him and help him to be released from his life of homelessness and poverty.
I learned some lessons from our quick interaction with this homeless young man on SR 50 in downtown Orlando. I quickly learned that even after all of my interactions with homeless people the world of homelessness still makes me feel uncomfortable. I still want to pull away from the world of poverty, the world of people wearing dirty clothes and the world of people who don't smell good. Downtown Orlando was not a world that I enjoyed seeing even for a few miles and when God brought that world up close and personal to me via a homeless young man, my first instinct was to lock the doors instead of rolling the window down to help someone in need. I pray that someday I will be able to love the homeless as God loves them without fear or hesitation.
I will remember the face of this homeless young man for a long, long time. I will remember his smile, his gratitude and his clear blue eyes looking directly into ours. I will remember that for a few minutes we were able to release him from his world of poverty and begging with the contents from a Blessing Bag. Looking into the face of this handsome and needy young man I was also reminded why Soaring Wings Ministries exists. Soaring Wings Ministries has been called into existence not to address the entire huge issue of homelessness but rather to reverse the issues of poverty and homelessness by truly caring for and truly loving homeless people as individuals. I truly believe that Soaring Wings Ministries is on the right path, that as God loves each one of us individually as unique human beings so likewise we are to love and care for the homeless as individuals and uniquely created human beings.
May God Bless each one of you as you travel through each day and during your travels may you remember to reach out to those in need around you.
Soaring Wings Ministries
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries