Posted by: beattieblog | May 12, 2011

Giving out of poverty…

One of the unfortunate parts of being a church planter engaged in grassroots, urban ministry is that you rush around alot. I say unfortunate because it causes you to miss what’s happening around you while ‘rushing‘ in the name of Jesus. One Sunday evening I was rushing to the Safeway at 47th and Brooklyn in the U-District to get candles, or salad dressing or chips or focacia bread or grapes or wine or…you get the picture. I had to perform a rush side-step to get around a young guy sitting on the curb, panhandling. In the U-District, you gotta get a little creative and his sign said something like “cheeseburger fund” or “beer fund”. I blazed right by him probably getting my wallet and club card ready so I could rush even rushier through check-out. On my way back out I had to navigate this same dude and an older woman who appeared to be the definition of “down on her luck.” It’s hard to tell the age of folks who’ve been on the streets a long time – but she must have been north of 60, dressed in a mishmash of quilted clothing that at one time would have been collage of colors but now were just various tints of gray. And I’ll always remember her shuffling feet – whatever had happened to her prior to that moment in life had taken the life, the health, the stamina – the whatever – out of her so that she could no longer even pick up her feet all the way. And believe me, the sidewalk in front of that safeway is not something you want to draaaag your feet across. As I passed these two folks, I hear the guy behind me say, “Hey, come here. Stop.” to the woman. I turned just in time to see him reach up and dump all the change from his paper coke cup into whatever little cup she had. She muttered a couple words to him and shuffled on her way. He said something like, “You take care of yourself,” and went back to pithy requests for shoppers’ change. I. Was. Crushed. I slunked back to my Subaru and drove the four blocks back to the church. I don’t know if there’s a Christian ‘fail blog’, but I was the homepage story in my own mind that night. I was reminded of that experience today seeing this article of incredible generosity from someone who not only lives in poverty but probably also experiences a fair amount of societal rejection:

http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/metro/homeless-chicago-man-curtis-jackso…

For better or worse, I’m guessing that this article will lead to more articles about this man, his history and why he’s on the streets of Chicago. He’ll likely get offered a job and maybe a home. But I’m not sure he’ll ever make a bigger impact then he did in the life of this banker and her son.

How about you? Have you ever experience a moment like mine where you’ve been educated / shamed / inspired in a surprising way? Did it cause any change in your thinking or actions?

 

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