When we were living in New Hampshire I was employed as a Home Visitor at Early Head Start in Concord. There were several aspects to my job. Some days required that I stay in the office for meetings, to complete some paperwork or to plan for the upcoming home visits with families but the days that I enjoyed the most were field days. These were the days when I was out visiting the families and their children on my caseload. I would visit the families, most of them single Mom's, and their young child or children under the age of three. We would spend time together working on child development, nutrition, health, safety and education. Overtime I would develop a very close relationship with these families as I was in their homes every week for sometimes up to 4 years. It was the time spent with these families, not my time spent in the office, that made my going to work everyday worth my time and effort. Spending time each week with these families in their homes was the reason why I did what I did for my job beyond the obvious of earning a paycheck.
And so it is the same for me here in Colorado. Going out into the field and reaching out to the homeless people on the streets gives me a deeper understanding as to why we do what we do here at Soaring Wings Ministries. Yesterday we spent some time in Fort Collins handing out blessing bags and bottles of water to the homeless. It is one thing to drive by a homeless person in our car but it is a different experience to walk up to a homeless person on the street and to go into their space where they are spending their days. The people we approached yesterday were sitting on curbs on side streets, sitting in the shade on a cement wall, leaning against a tree in a park or walking down the street. Some of them had signs asking for help but most of them did not. When you get up close to a homeless person you cannot deny their need for assistance, care and hope. You also see more than just a homeless person. You see a young girl in her early twenties whose hair hasn't been washed in a long time and whose clothes have been worn for too many days. You see a young man whose sneakers are very worn and ragged and you see an older man who wears too many clothes because it is easier to wear them than to carry them. More importantly you see their faces and when you look into their eyes you see despair, concern, worry and when you first approach them you see fear. We quickly ask them if they would like a bottle of water and a blessing bag and immediately their faces and their eyes change. The fear melts away and for a brief moment you see joy in their eyes and you see hope on their faces. They are quick to give us a smile and many of them will stand up if they are sitting down to thank us or to shake our hands or sometimes to give us a hug. They always, without fail, say thank you and sometimes they will say "God bless you". Yesterday we spent a few minutes giving out water and blessing bags to a group of about 5 people sitting on a cement wall under a tree. As I was walking away one man said "Wait a minute. I want to pray for you". I turned around and approached him again and he spent a few minutes praying for me.....a homeless man praying for me. Do you know how humbling that it is? Do you know how blessed I felt to have a homeless man who had nothing and no home to pray and ask God to protect and bless me? I cannot find the words to describe how much it meant to have that homeless man pray for me. At that moment in time there was no place else I would have rather been and nothing else I would have rather been doing. I wouldn't have missed that moment of blessing from a homeless man for anything in the world.
It is always the case, when we are out in Fort Collins reaching out to the homeless people, that there is one person, who for some reason, reaches deep down into my being and grabs my heart. There is just something about them that leaves me with a feeling of wishing I could do more than hand them a blessing bag and a bottle of water. Such was the case yesterday. My daughter Meredith and I approached a young man sitting or actually almost laying on the ground against a tree. As we approached him we saw that he was a younger man. He did not get up when we asked him if he wanted a bottle of water or when we offered him a blessing bag. He looked up at us but he did not smile and as he looked up at us we were able to see his face and eyes. He was a handsome young man with dark hair and expressive eyes. When he looked up at us I immediately no longer saw a homeless man in the park. I saw a young man with much potential and a desperate need for love and hope. I saw a human being, one of God's children. I immediately thought to myself that no matter why this young man was homeless, no human being should have the ground as their home. As we walked away that thought never left me.....this was a human being with the ground as their home. That thought needs to be repeated....this was a human being with the ground as their home and it needs to be repeated over and over again.....this was a human being with the ground as their home. I walked back to our car and I thought of this young man with the ground as his home. As I thought of him I immediately knew why we do what we do at Soaring Wings Ministries. Soaring Wings Ministries exists to create wholeness and an empowered future for homeless and hurting young adults through the love of Jesus. That is our mission statement. That is why Soaring Wings Ministries exists and that is why we do what we do what we do. We are working our hardest to get a homeless person, like this young man with the ground as his home, off the street. We are working our hardest to get the young lady with the dirty hair and unwashed clothes off the street. We are working our hardest to give hopeless, hurting people an environment filled with hope and the love of Jesus.
Yesterday we ended our time of reaching out to the homeless by praying for them as we sat in our car. We headed back to Soaring Wings Ministries on Trinity Lane in Wellington with a renewed urgency to get the addition built as quickly as possible in order to provide a home for a homeless family. We also returned to Trinity Lane with a deeper understanding of why we do what we do.....no human being should have the ground as their home.
I challenge you to reach out to the homeless people where you live. Be prepared with blessing bags and bottles of water in your car but the next time you see a homeless person on a street corner take the time to park your car and walk up to the homeless person with the blessing bag and bottle of water. It will take a bit more time out of your day but it will make a huge difference to the homeless person that you took the time to personally hand them the items. It will also make a huge difference for you because you will be able to see into their faces. You will no longer see a homeless person but a human being...one of God's children who needs hope and also the interactions of human kindness. You can be that person to offer them hope and kindness and it can be accomplished through the smallest of items in a blessing bag and one bottle of water. I can guarantee that as you walk away from that homeless person back to your car you will feel blessed from knowing that you were the hands and feet of Jesus.
Blessings to each of you as you go about your day today and as you reach out to others in the name of Jesus,
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