The Kingdom of which Christ spoke was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, crippled, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, addicts, prostitutes, mentally disabled, prisoners, and aliens-the “least of these (Matt. 25:40)-were to be lifted up and embraced by God.
I grew up exposed to adults struggling with a wide range of addictions. After several years of watching them struggle one decided to get sober, and the others followed suit. I came to know Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) at the age of 14. For several years I was frustrated with A.A. and N.A. only because I was unable to comprehend the necessity of the meetings. The only thing I was able to understand at such a young age was the time they took my family away from me. I was frustrated with the meetings often because they came first and foremost. I now know the very importance of having a group of individuals who has been where you have been, and who can relate and help keep one accountable, sober, and off the streets. I now understand the vitality of attending such meetings, and encourage other to attend.
I did not know then that God would take my past, and my family's past, and use it for something beautiful to help others.
At the same time when I was first exposed to A.A. I made a new friend , Allie, who later became one of my best friends. Her father was homeless. She would tell me stories of the shelters he lived in and the hardships her family went through. He was able to get married, have four wonderful children, and hold a decent job. Allie was 12 when her father became homeless due to depression. Her father is a wonderfully bright man who is very encouraging and extremely knowledgeable of the Bible. He was homeless for six years.
I attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches TX where I was working on getting my Sociology Degree. I became involved in a Bible Study group that worked weekly with GODTEL, a local homeless shelter, where my heart for the homeless was molded by playing cards, talking outback where they were allowed to smoke, and living along side them. I was exposed to homelessness that had a name, face, and story. The homeless in Nacogdoches were then seen as people who just needed someone to listen; they were not a population to be scared of, or angry at. The homeless were then seen as a population that just simply needed love, a love that would surpass all understanding (Eph. 4:17-19).
Today I now work at as a caseworker at The Stewpot which offers a safe haven for homeless and at-risk individuals of Dallas, providing resources for basic survival needs as well as opportunities to start a new life. I was drawn to work at The Stewpot for many reasons. The first thing that drew me to the Stewpot was the fact that First Presbyterian started this ministry and supports it. It was refreshing to know that a church would be so involved in a Homeless Ministry that they would invest in a building right next door to their sanctuary in order to serve the very poor that Jesus mentions throughout the Bible. The Stewpot puts a name and a story with each individual. We speak of the positive things in which each individual has the ability to accomplish and that we as a ministry seek to see them accomplish. The staff at The Stewpot are aware that ‘the poor will always be with us’(mark 14:7), but are still called to love and they all do it exceedingly well.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
“Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.”- St. Francis of Assisi