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Service in the Streets

October 13, 2014

Our new Marketing Assistant, Kathleen Burns, shares her first experience with our Service in the Streets program.

“Don’t trust yourself, trust God,” Jones told us. Jones, a small man with a message grander than the city itself, lit up the street corner. He’d sat at that very same corner every day for four years. When we first approached him his head hung low and his arm modestly held out a plastic cup. We introduced ourselves and talked with him about his day. “Let me tell you all something,” Jones said, using his free hand to move his wheelchair towards us. He smiled as he told us, “God is good.” He then proceeded to tell us briefly about his story. How he had become severely handicapped as a child and lived through losing all of his remaining family members. At the end he smiled again, “God is good. Trust Him – once I learned that, everything changed.”

Jones was just one of the many incredible people I connected with on my very first Service in the Streets trip. There was James, a quiet man who’d lost his job after the passing of his brother. Cardboard signs were balanced all around him; asking for money and saying ‘God bless whoever takes the time to read this.’ There was Lawrence, whose lively jokes and energy brought smiles to all of our faces and who when offered food, said he didn’t need it as much as his friends did. He told us he’d give them our sandwiches when he returned to sleep under the bridge with them that night. Even though each of their stories were so different and their attitudes unique, they all had two things in common. First, they all took the time to shake each of our hands and ask our names. The second was that each one mentioned in some way, God. They thanked God, wished God upon us, or as Jones did, told us to trust God fully. The fact that they all mentioned God or that they were teaching me so much surprised me. Afterwards, I heard multiple people on the service trip with me say, “the homeless helped us more than our sandwiches helped them.”

The Service in the Streets program completely shattered my idea of the homeless. It flipped my concerns and assumptions around. I was always told to avoid eye contact, and just walk quickly past anyone camped out on the streets. I always wished I could do something for them, but never found a way to. Service in the Streets gave me that opportunity. Instead of avoiding these people living on the streets, my team and I were seeking them. Instead of ignoring them, we asked them how they were doing that day. Instead of dismissing their coins clanking in their cups, we gave them a fresh meal. When we talked with them, I felt so still. The world seemed to just zoom by as we stood still, taking the time to connect with each other. My biggest worry about going on this trip was not being able to talk with the homeless. I thought I would just be silent the whole time while my team members had conversations with them. My fears quickly disappeared. After watching my team leader connect with the first man we met, I was ready to try. It became so easy. I think it’s easy for us to forget that they are just people. I also quickly realized that our questions and conversations were just as important to them as the sandwiches we gave.

As previously said, each person I met that day helped my spirit just as much as our food helped them. Service in the Streets was an incredible experience that was so easy to become a part of. I strongly encourage everyone to attend our upcoming trips on October 25th and October 30th. Even if you feel nervous or have never even thought of doing something like this; come join. I wasn’t sure at first, but am now so thankful that I decided to go. I am so excited for my next experience with Service in the Streets. When we told Jones we’d be back on another trip, he told us to visit him again and chuckled, “Lord knows I’ll be here!”

service in the streets logo 2

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