Last month our church opened up for people in need of emergency shelter during the cold -31 degree weather. One of the people found shelter at the church was Jen. As I started trying to help her I found the plight of single homeless adults to be dire indeed. I discovered no shelters in our community, the nearest being Pine City and St. Cloud. I also found that what help could be found, was difficult to understand and navigate. If I had trouble figuring out how to get help, how much more difficult must it be for a person who is living on the street.
We ended up with Jen living with us in our home. She has been with us for four weeks and will be for a few more. Jen is a pleasant house guest to have around and is working at getting things together. We enjoy having her with us, but we also look forward to the day when she will back in charge of her life.
As I think of all the things that we have given to Jen to help her, the most important thing has not been food, clothes or even a warm bed to sleep in. The greatest thing we have given Jen is hope. Hope that she can put life back together, have a job, have a home, and put the past behind her.
So many people struggle without hope. They feel nothing can really change, in their marriage, their family, their job, their community, their country. Eventually they just quit trying. This is exactly where many homeless and poor people are at.
Jesus gives us hope and we can share this hope with the world. Jesus brings us hope through forgiveness, hope because we know that our past sins and mistakes do not have to limit our future. Hope, because God does love us and God does hear our prayers. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old life has passed away, a new life has come.”
One time a homeless drunk snuck over the fence of the President of Fuller Seminaries yard and was caught stealing a steak off the grill. The seminary President stopped him and got him a plate and sat him down with his family. Four years later that homeless man was my Hebrew Professor at Fuller. Two Years later when I graduated, that once homeless man walked across the stage to cheers, and received His Doctorate. All he needed was hope.
There are people all around us who need hope. Hope for their broken marriage or broken family. Hope for a new job or a home of their own. Hope for friendship and love. Hope that they can put past sins and mistakes behind and live a new life from Jesus.
Will we give them hope? Will we take a risk and reach out to them? Will we pick them up and hold them up until they can stand on their own? We can show people that they are not forgotten, and they are important to God and to us. It will cost us time, money, and give us emotional stress, but we can give them hope.