Wednesday, March 04, 2009

a series of unplanned events...

... led to a series of choices.
Which required faith. 
And stepping out in that faith.
Taking action.
The result?
A beautiful scene of God at work.
And an open door for that work to continue.

Let me tell you the story of what I experienced this past Sunday morning. First let me back up. I went up to Murfreesboro on Saturday afternoon to visit Laurel and some other friends. The plan was to be there for the Coffeehouse Fundraiser that night, hang out, stay the night, and go to church with them the next morning before heading back to Huntsville. 

Saturday night we were thrilled by a huge, unexpected {though forecasted} surprise-- SNOW! As in true college student/fresh out of college student fashion {I know... it has been 2 years now. Not quite fresh.}, we ventured out for some snow sledding adventures at about 1:30am. When we got back, close to 3:30, we just weren't all that tired. Seriously, I could not fall asleep. So we had some deep, late-night real talk until nearly 5. Needless to say, we were moving a little slow as we got ready for church Sunday morning.

Bible class starts at 9:30, and at 9:35, we {Laurel, Jenny, & I} were walking out the front door into {approximately} 7 inches of snow. After clearing the snow off the windows and slowly backing out of the driveway, we were on our way. Except we stopped at Starbucks. And there was a line. And as we made our way towards the church, we realized that we were way too late to make an appearance in class, so we turned down a side street, found a Hardees, and pulled in. 
{Series of unplanned events}

As we drove up to the drive-thru, we noticed 2 homeless men standing outside. We pulled together some money as we got our food and then drove back around the building to help out these 2 men. However, they weren't outside anymore; they'd gone in. So we parked the car, grabbed our food, and headed inside.
{Series of choices}

When we walked in, we noticed that there were actually 4 of them, and we really didn't know what to do, so we grabbed a booth and sat down. I mean, we didn't really know for sure if they were even homeless. Doubts and fears kept us frozen in our seats. What if they aren't homeless? What if they get mad or offended if we approach them? What if they just see as some annoying, rich girls that want to get in a good deed for the day? How do we start this conversation? We sat there for about 10 minutes before any of us made a move. Finally, I stood up.... and walked right past them into the bathroom. {ha, pansy} I noticed that they didn't have any food, so I knew we had to do something. So when I walked out, after breathing a desperate prayer to GOD for assistance, I walked up to the guys, and just started talking to them.
{Stepping out in faith}

Laurel and Jenny were right behind me, and together, we sat and chatted with the men. We found out they had slept in a Salvation Army the night before, but they get kicked out in the mornings, so they were waiting here until the library would open at 1:00. At one point Jenny {taking another step in faith} asked the guys if they would want to go to church with us. They said yes. So we called our friend T, he came, we loaded up the 2 cars, and made our way to church.
{Taking action}

It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in church. I turned to look down the pew at the people beside me... Jerry, John, Bill, & Charles sitting between me and my friends. We ended up spending about 4 hours with these men, hearing about their lives and their search for jobs, laughing together as we sat in the back of a Chinese buffet... We dropped them off at the library that afternoon, and as we drove away, I thought about just how much this afternoon must have meant to them.... and I realized just how much it meant to me. 

Thank you, LORD, for using me as a vessel... a gift of YOUR love and mercy to these men.

Interested in learning more about the crisis of homelessness in our country and how we, as the church, can be used by God to help, even in these "little" ways? Check out Under The Overpass , a book by Mike Yandoski. I just finished reading it, and it has really given me some good perspective.


katie said...

you have more courage than i would ever have!

ashley said...

so i cried a little jenna....oh how i miss you!

Corey & Alisha said...

I am so proud of you!! After hearing Mike speak in CO I have been looking for the same opportunities to reach out. I do not want to be the person that just walks by pretending not to see.

Thanks for sharing this and reminding us all of the power we have to love the unlovable and make a difference in someone's life.

Annie said...

Jenna, this post brought tears to my eyes... I love your bravery, and I love how God chose to use the three of you. You reminded me of how I should be representing Christ in my community. (And I want to read that book now.) I can't wait to see you this weekend!!