Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Homeless Man

I did not get his name. He wandered onto the train, begging for money. He was a homeless Vietnam Vet. I was skeptical of his story until he pulled his knitted toboggan off and you could see where half his forehead was gone from a shatter blast. His wife had died of cancer years ago, and he had slowly sunk into despair, depression and loss of all his worldly goods over the years. He had become a beggar with no home or family.

Now, what I found to be curious was that he was a white man, but every person who gave him money that day (at least 7 individuals) was black. I have often seen the white man give to the black beggar, but this truly warmed my heart, especially to see the black folks' generosity to one in need in spite of his color. I once was told that "God does not see the  color of your skin" and that day, I clearly saw evidence that mercy and charity work both ways.

It was winter and extremely cold outside and I asked, "Where is your coat?"  He told me it was stolen when he was trying to check into one of the local shelters. All I had was a pair of stretch black woolen gloves and I gladly gave him those. The question is, had I been a man, would I have given him my good coat? He loudly recited this verse in its entirety from the Bible.  (Matthew 25:35-40).

35 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, 36 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.’
   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

He was pulled from the train after the next stop by a police officer who happened to be on board. I will never see this man again but he and the other "givers" taught me the greatest story of love that day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bless You, First Lady of Alabama, Patsy Riley

First Lady Patsy Riley has a ministry called Blankets with a Blessing. I was blessed myself in being allowed to go to the Governor's Mansion, thanks to my talented and beautiful friend, Dorothy Ziegler,  to get a bundle of blankets to give out on one of my back roads trips to those who would need them in this brutal ~~so far~~ Southern winter. My wonderful Tuskeegee friend, William Bray, knows his community well and promised to give a few to those in his area.  My next stop was to a gentleman who is shut in and lives alone. Another blanket was given to a terminally ill man in Montgomery, who just wanted something warm for his bed.

The blankets have a simple prayer by St. Francis and the Bible verse John 16:33 attached. The message simply ends with

"This blanket comes to you with blessings from the First Lady of Alabama, Patsy Riley, and the citizens of Alabama."

So, thank you, Mrs. Riley, for this great ministry you started and your generous heart to reach out to those in need. Thank you also to the people of Alabama who donate these warm, fleecy blankets and to Leah and Emily, assistants to the First Lady. I wish you could meet each person you bless with your generosity!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Heavy Hearts

I had never been this close to poverty before. At least four boys played ball in the street. The ladies and small children were inside. I was invited in. The room was bare and could not have been more than 12x12'. Two closed doors led to other small rooms. There were nine of us and it was warm inside even though it was 37 outside. They had one piece of furniture, a sofa, and all the ladies sat on it while I sat with the children on the floor. My husband and I had taken a few toys and a few jackets to the kids, thanks to a generous donation from a family I met. My nervous husband sat in the car waiting. He was not happy about being in this place. As I approached the car after my visit, a lady in a wheelchair rolled down the street and asked if I had a gift for her. I promised to return with one. My heart was overwhelmed with thoughts of this moment as we witnessed the many needs of this entire street of families. We traveled back to the comforts of our home with a heaviness in our hearts over the poverty in our great state of Alabama.