Yesterday, I got brought past my edge of knowing how to help. I came face to face with several friends with needs that were so overwhelming I really didn’t know what to say or do. One set of friends are new friends. They are a couple who have been attending our church now for a couple of months. Their names are Jack and Deb. I like them. They are here every Sunday and Wednesday. I enjoy conversations with them. They possess one quality that makes them unique from anyone else in our congregation. They are homeless and have been staying at the Salvation Army. They have known for sometime that their time there was limited and they have not been passively waiting.
A few weeks ago, they thought they may be able to find help in Springfield, Missouri. I was going to be driving through there and offered to drive them up, but I wanted to be sure they had a place to land. Several phone calls yielded a pretty bleak picture for them if I were to drop them off in Springfield so we abandoned that plan.
A week ago, they tried to interview for temporary jobs out at the fair. No such luck. Hiring had stopped two days earlier. A day later I hired them for a half a day to do some yard work for me. We normally care for our own yard, but a collision of kid’s schedules made it unlikely to impossible to address our lawn. The couple and I worked together for about a half a day. I gave them a fair wage and lunch and they got me out of a bind. It was a good win/win situation for all of us. I enjoyed working with them.
A few days ago, they heard through the grape vine that they might be able to get work in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Having lived there for nine years I know the directors of two of the agencies that minister to the homeless and needed. I called them and again found a rather bleak picture of no work and no place for them to stay.
Yesterday, their time at the Salvation Army came to an end. I let them put their bags in my office. I am not sure where they stayed last night. We have tapped out our benevolence fund and I am personally feeling like I have hired out about all I can for the moment. May be I am wrong. May be I should do more. I guess I am at my edge of personal giving. This situation is harder than usually. I have come to know them. I have watched them make genuine efforts to change their situation, but to no avail. We have a friendship of sorts. Not a deep one, but I have a connection with them that is more than I typically have with someone in their position.
May be someone is reading this in Texarkana or an adjoining area and has some thoughts on what they might do. Or may be someone in this area needs some odd jobs done. If so, contact me. When they mowed, trimmed and mulched for me, they worked hard and did a good job. I suspect that in the next few days they will hitch hike out of the area and try to find work some place else. I would hate to see them go.
I said that I had several friends with overwhelming need. Last night I had a chat with another friend whose life is pretty much a wreck at the moment. In the past few months she has lost her marriage and wound up with some overwhelming debt. Her story could be your story or my story probably more easily than we care to imagine. She will be losing her home soon and right now doesn’t know what will happen after that. I wanted some miraculous words or ideas that would solve all of her problems. The only thing I could really do is encourage her to hang in there moment by moment and cling really close to God. I also reminder her that she is precious and valuable no matter what her net worth is at the moment. Perhaps, this was enough for the moment.
As I ponder these situations and more (these aren’t the only people I know in rather dire situations) I feel a profound inadequacy. I question whether I am doing enough. I am praying for them and know that God may and can move in their situations in ways that I can’t imagine. It’s in these moments I realize that ultimately we are always in God’s hands and shouldn’t take that for granted. So today I have both prayers of gratitude and prayers of deep concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am almost painfully aware of the abundance in my life and a touch of shame for ever complaining about anything. Take time today to count your blessings.