I am sure we can all agree that having a supportive network of family and friends around is priceless. In our ministry we often build solid friendships with those we serve. Sometimes becoming the only friends, “family”, or support system the homeless have.
There is a man (we will call him “Miguel”) that comes into The Pantry nearly every day, not to receive but to give back. Miguel is homeless, and has been living on the streets of San Diego for a number of years. Although he has plenty of worries throughout his day, he really enjoys coming to volunteer. He sweeps, mops, hangs clothing, and often just sits and asks questions about the Bible. Miguel had a stroke years ago and has a twitch that doesn’t go away. He has many other health concerns that prevent him from holding steady employment, so volunteering with us helps him feel productive.
For the past month-or-so Miguel has been complaining about his health. When he finally shared details of some of his concerns, we decided to take him to the ER. We loaded him and his bags in my car and took him up the road to the Emergency Room. He was admitted right away and stayed in the hospital for almost two weeks. He was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in his digestive system that was basically destroying the lining of his stomach and intestines.
When I visited him in the hospital, he was so thankful to have a familiar face there. He needed someone to ease his anxiety and pray for his health. He needed a friend.
Again, when one of our volunteers visited him, he explained that we were the only ones who visited him, let alone the only ones who knew he was admitted into the hospital. We are the only ones that know his name and the only ones that took the time to listen. I can’t tell you how often this story repeats itself with different individuals we serve. The homeless often have no one who cares about them, no one to visit them in the hospital, and sometimes no one who can even call 911 for them.
A couple years ago I took another homeless friend to the hospital because of severe pain. When the doctors found out what was wrong, they explained that if my friend had waited one more day it would have been too late. He would have been dead.
Not only is it the poor, sick, homeless, or imprisoned we serve… it is Jesus.
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'