Last week I spent an amazing five days volunteering at the Passion 2012 Conference. (www.268generation.com) “Passion has been around since 1997 with a desire to see spiritual awakening come to the college campuses of the nation and the world.” I struggle to share what a privilege it was to volunteer but it was one that I will carry with me for a long time. Over 40,000 college students attended this year’s Passion Conference. They gave over $3mm to end modern slavery, 36,000 towels and 156,000 pairs of socks to give to the Atlanta Mission Ministry. This generation has an incredible giving heart and are determined to break free the 27 million that are locked in slavery. Help is on the Way!
If you’d like to learn more about this movement click on this link http://268generation.com/passion2012/#!/do-something-now/ to watch the video.
There are incredible memories of this past week – a college student commits $6,000 towards the campaign, endless towels and socks for the Atlanta Mission, 43,000 college students praising God through worship at the top of their lungs in the Dome and most of all the stories about students learning and accepting Christ as their personal Savior.
All of these memories are locked in my heart and I could stop right here but there is one memory that happened outside the dome that haunts me. Most early mornings I walked with another volunteer friend but this one particular morning, I was by myself. Unfortunately, downtown Atlanta doesn’t have the best reputation for safety. I have traveled on my own for work for 20 years so I naturally become guarded. As I walk down the sidewalk, it is too early for students to be venturing their way over to the Dome. I’m all alone on the sidewalk except for a man walking towards me, who appears to look homeless but I’m not sure. As I get closer I see he is definitely a man living on the streets and I tense up a bit. As if reading my body language, he moves off the sidewalk as we pass as if to say, “I want you to feel safe.” Long time ago, I saw an Oprah show where a working woman experimented by living on the streets and her conclusion was a surprise to me. She said it wasn’t the lack of money given but the avoidance of looking in her eyes and saying hello. This has stayed with me ever since. So when the man moved off the sidewalk, I looked him in the eyes and said Good Morning. Soon after I passed he asked if I had coffee. Earlier that morning I made myself a hot tea, which I was holding in my hand. I told him it wasn’t coffee and kept walking. A couple of steps later, I turned around and said would you like my tea? He said, “Yes!” I walked back and gave him my tea. Now perhaps this could be the end of the story but something always gets triggered inside of me when I give money or some item to the less fortunate.
A short back story before we continue, I spent a year of my career as an Orthopedic Trauma sales rep. My job was to guide and instruct the doctors on how to use our nails and pins. One time a motorcyclist was in an accident where his shoulder was completely torn open. I remember the doctor asking me to stand closer to see how they were putting the soft tissue back together. My reaction was one of intrigue, because the normal reaction is to shy away from those types of scenes. Where on the other hand, my reaction to handing money out the window to someone begging sends me into tears the rest of the day. I used to avoid giving money because I wasn’t sure how the person would spend the money. It wasn’t until I read scripture that says and I paraphrase, “Give them wine so they can forget their misery.” It wasn’t until then did I finally stop judging what they would do with the money. Now I give without a second thought but I feel a deep sobbing in my body after I do this. I’ve been told that my reactions perhaps should be switched around for the person on the table vs the person on the corner.
Back to my story….I walked away from the homeless man thinking about his week. It had been freezing that week, 19 for a low. It broke my heart. Couldn’t I do more? I continued to walk towards the Dome and in front of me was a man all dressed up in an expensive suit. I wondered how two men born into this world arrive at such a different place. This suit man fixed a couple of garbage can lids on his way in so he didn’t seem to be above his dress. Somehow suit man ends up behind me and as I enter the doors, it hits me that I have $15 cash in my pocket. Why didn’t I think to give it to the homeless man? Perhaps he could get a couple of cups of coffee? So as I hesitated at the doors I held the door open for suit man and he asked, “Are you okay?” In my state of tears, I wanted to say no, we need to do something about that man down there but I held back because I didn’t want to bring attention to myself in what I was about to do. I headed back wondering if he would still be there. As I got closer there was no sign of him. It broke my heart, why didn’t I think of it earlier? I walked one more block down and to my left I see a blanket sticking out from behind the wall. I walked over and the homeless man is sitting on some dock steps drinking the tea. It took everything in me to hold it together. I pulled out my cash and gave it to him and noticed he spoke Spanish. I stepped back and wished him a good weekend in Spanish…it was the little spanish I knew from working in Puerto Rico for 10 years.
Walking back I couldn’t help but wish there was something more I could do. Why do live in such a fallen world where some people have to live outside when it is freezing? My spirit was crushed for this man…a man who stepped aside to make sure I felt safe walking by him, a man who meekly asked for my hot drink, a man who probably didn’t have much warmth all night. Before I walked inside the doors I stood at the wall looking over in the direction where the homeless man was drinking tea and said a prayer for him. I had to be at peace with “doing for one what I wish I could do for everyone.” Andy Stanley
So how does this tie in with MovieMe? I’m not sure yet but my initial thoughts are to use this venue to perhaps do a documentary of homeless people we meet so we understand their story, rise them above just being a statistic. I urge you to take the time and see the people around you…you just might be the one to make a difference in their day. Michael W. Smith sings the desire of my heart http://youtu.be/Vg48hznJNBs May we be a culture where Help is on the Way…