Not too long ago I was driving through Boston on my way to South Station. I had just taken the exit off I-93 for South Station and was stopped for a traffic light. I saw a homeless young man standing on the street corner. I knew he was homeless because there was a collection of bags and a backpack sitting on the sidewalk near where he was standing. I also knew he was homeless because he looked tired and unkept and he was holding a cardboard sign asking for help. There were two other cars ahead of me waiting for the light to turn green. The homeless young man approached the first car....nothing. He then moved to approach the second car and I began to feel uncomfortable as I knew that I was next in line. He approached the second car......also nothing and just as I expected he moved to approach our car. Lots of things immediately ran through my mind....should I help this young man? What will happen if I roll down the window of my car? Why won't the light just hurry up and turn green so that I can avoid dealing with this whole uncomfortable situation? How could I help him? Then I remembered......I had packed my lunch before I left home and it was sitting in the back seat. I decided I was going to help this young man by giving him my lunch. As he approached our car I rolled down the window and looked him in the face and said "Hi". He said "Hi" back to me. I said to him "I don't have much that I can give you but would you like my lunch?" I wish all of you reading this could have seen the look on his face. It instantly went from having an expression of fear, stress and hopelessness......to joy, gratitude and peace and all because I gave him a meager lunch in a clear plastic bag. He smiled at me and said yes and thanked me for the lunch. In that instant when I handed him my lunch I no longer saw a scary homeless person. I saw the face and eyes of a grateful, joyful young man. As the young man walked away I saw that the car in front of me, who originally had turned him away, rolled down their window and handed him some change. The young man walked back to his spot on the corner and the light turned green. As we approached the corner, the young man stopped and turned around. He looked for the car ahead of me and waved a thank-you to them and then looked at me driving away and waved a thankyou to me. Several thoughts stayed with me as I continued our drive to South Station. My first thought was, it didn't really take much to brighten this young man's day as my lunch that I gave him was not very substantial. I also thought that we need to cast off our fears and proceed with courage. At first I was afraid of this homeless young man approaching my car. I am so glad that I didn't give into my fears and that I proceeded to help this young man even though it was just a very small thing. My other thought was that other people are also afraid and that helping is contagious. After I gave my lunch to this young man, the people in front of me also helped him. I was also so very touched that this young man made the effort to know how much he appreciated our help. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw him standing on the corner waving to us with gratitude as we drove away. I immediately thought of the 10 men in the Bible who Jesus healed and only one went back to thank Jesus. I was humbled by this young man's gratitude. He was grateful for so little....I was ashamed of myself for not being as grateful for what I have when I have so much more. This whole incident in Boston at the stop light just outside of South Station did not take even 3 minutes but the entire interaction between me and this homeless young man really touched me and opened my eyes and my heart. I am so glad that I listened to God's prompting to reach and help this young man. I was blessed because I did. Next time I am going to back a bigger lunch.
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Anita Rennells is writer of this blog. She, along with her husband Ed, founded Soaring Wings Ministries to serve the homeless. The purpose of the blog is to tell the story of Soaring Wings Ministries and to give glory to God.
Soaring Wings Ministries