One hot Saturday afternoon in June, BelPres high school youth and leaders headed to Seattle’s Pioneer Square. BelPres youth have had a focus on homelessness this year, serving at Mary’s Place, at Congregations for the Homeless, and on our Denver mission trip. After a walking tour, including Bread of Life Mission and Compass House, we broke up into small groups where each group was given $20 to use as part of an act of service.
My group picked up three foot-long Subway sandwiches, cut to share. We noticed a couple sitting on a bench and asked if we could sit with them. “Jenny” was hearing impaired, and her boyfriend, “Dave,” helped us have a conversation. It was Jenny’s birthday, and her eyes lit up when we offered her a sandwich. Soon we were chatting. Dave shared that he lived in one shelter, and Jenny lived in another. We asked if we could pray with them. Dave smiled and said, “Yes! And I would like to pray for you.” We held hands and he thanked God for the food and for our group’s willingness to spend time with them. We thanked God for their faith and trust in Him.
As we got up to leave, we noticed a violin case next to them. Dave said he played the violin, and wanted to play a birthday song for Jenny, but a piece had broken off and he didn’t have money for glue. The girls looked at each other and said, “We can get some glue!” Two girls purchased glue and gave it to Dave. He was thrilled to be able to repair his violin and play Jenny her song.
That day we heard stories of brokenness, stories of hope, stories of lives that, from the outside, seemed lost and worthless, but on the inside were filled with faith and trust in God. We offered prayer and were prayed for.
Some advice offered by people we met included stay in school, trust in God, and keep on going.
Some advice offered by people we met included stay in school, trust in God, and keep on going. On a hot June day, we were refreshed by the Holy Spirit’s presence in the park.
Afterwards, our teens talked about how joyful their time had been. Each small group had fed people, learned about their lives, and come away with a deeper understanding of God. Most shared that they would love to repeat the experience. We found God in the lives of our homeless brothers and sisters. Tired and sweaty, we returned home with full hearts and a deeper understanding of what it means to serve the Lord.
Serving our homeless brothers and sisters is not complicated. Any of us can take a couple of hours to head downtown, grab a few sandwiches and hang out at the park. We can invite someone living on the streets to have lunch with us, and we can hear their story and pray for them. I encourage you to give this a try!