As I write this month's column, we are spending a few days in San Diego on vacation. The weather has been great and the activities have been so much fun, but I became really uncomfortable by the end of our first day because of the number of homeless people everywhere.
I don't know what to say or do when I pass a homeless person, so I usually walk by without acknowledging them. Human beings created in the image of God, and because of my inhibitions and stereotypes, I uncomfortably ignore them. I asked the Lord to help me to see them as He does. He reminded me that He loves them, too. And by the way, could I tell them that?
I prayed, "Oh God, that's not my thing. Send me to the orphans in Africa! You know I know how to tell them and even show them how much You love them! Or send me to pray with a friend. I'm comfortable with loving someone that way. But talking to a homeless person? Well, that's just not my thing."
His reply? "But it's My thing. You want to see them as I do? They are fearfully and wonderfully made, just like you."
Could I even say hello to someone seen as unacceptable to the rest of the world? I get worried about them asking me for money. Do I give them some or not? There is the stereotype of homeless people who spend the money they get on drugs and alcohol, or the stories about people who fake they are homeless so they can get free hand-outs, or that they are mentally ill so it's best to avoid them altogether because it could get dangerous. It' a lot easier to judge and condemn than it is to care. Perhaps that is my biggest fear of all - that I will care.
A homeless person is someone's son, someone's brother, someone's aunt. Can I even ask someone's name and say hi? Perhaps they haven't heard their name spoken in a long time. When is the last time someone talked to them instead of just looking away? Could I tell them Jesus loves them? I didn't have to "clean up" my act before coming to Jesus. He accepted me just the way I am. Why should I think I am unable to talk to someone who isn't "cleaned up?" Am I too proud to be seen talking to someone who is less fortunate than I?
The Bible is filled with verses about helping the poor and needy, and yet I know this is bigger than handing over a few dollar bills. I went to bed last night wondering how I would finish up this article, and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," was ringing in my head when I woke up this morning (Matthew 7:21). "Kindness" is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.
Can I offer hope in the name of Jesus Christ? Do I honestly believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me? Oh Lord, give me Your strength and Your heart. I know that if I step out in obedience, You will equip me.
Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.