God blessed me today…I spent some time at Mission of Hope, helping serve their daily lunch. My desire was to go and help the Mission and to bless others, and wouldn’t you know…I was the one who ended up being blessed!
I arrived around 11:30 a.m. wearing my favorite fuchsia-colored Mission of Hope t-shirt, denim shorts and flip-flops, with my pans of marbled chocolate bars in hand. As I walked in, I was greeted by many of the Mission patrons. Some I knew, and some I did not. Men and women from all sorts of walks of life, who have a story to tell and who come to the Mission of Hope to find hope, encouragement, and help. They may be considered homeless, hungry, hurting, sick, tired, stressed, depressed, mentally ill, formerly incarcerated, drug/alcohol addicts, outcasts or the like. I was reminded at that moment that Jesus loves each one there, just as much as He loves me, no matter our place in society.
I was greeted with either a hug, smile, or handshake by some of the staff and volunteers. (I had to put my pans of bars down for the hugs and handshakes!) Each time I’m at the Mission, I’m awed by the staffs’ and volunteers’ compassion for people, and today was no exception–I witnessed it within my first few minutes of being there. My best buddy, Tina, who is on staff at the Mission, also came to serve lunch today–what a joy it was to work alongside of her! I was pleasantly suprised when I was standing in the kitchen area, and I saw our family friend, Steve, walk through the door of the Mission! It was great to catch up with him and to share some time, and even have lunch together!
Lunch was running a few minutes behind today, but no one complained. On a normal day, approximately 75 people are served lunch there, and lunches are usually made and served by outside volunteers, church groups, families, etc. Today, one of the Mission of Hope Shelter residents made an incredible turkey casserole. Coleslaw, garlic bread and my marbled chocolate bars accompanied the casserole. After everyone was served, I sat back and observed the people…laughing, talking, children being children, people helping people. I overheard conversations about God, church, life and the great meal. I was encouraged. I forgot about any of my minor struggles as I heard others talk about their own. It felt good to help others, to encourage them and to give them, in some small way, a glimmer of hope.
In the book of Matthew, in the 25th chapter, there are a few verses which reminds me of Mission of Hope, and are verses that Mission of Hope tailors their service to God by. Jesus was teaching on the subject of those who will inherit the kingdom of God and those who will not: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36) “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
When was the last time you and I gave the hungry something to eat? When was the last time you and I gave the thirsty something to drink? When have we invited a stranger in or clothed the naked? When was the last time we looked after the sick or visted those in prison? Are these things comfortable for us to do? I’d have to answer honestly, probably not. Are they easy to do? No necessarily. Do we have to go out of our way to do these things? Yes. Is it worth it to do them? ABSOLUTELY! Jesus said when we do any of these things for others, even the outcasts, it’s as if we did them for Jesus. My prayer is that this challenges all of us–to find ways of helping those in need, and to give of ourselves. I plan to take our children back on a regular basis to help with lunch there this summer…I want them to be blessed as I was today.
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