A Time to Give

10 10 2007

Sacramento

I work in downtown Sacramento.

Sacramento is a “pretty” city. There are a lot of trees, some fabulous architecture, and the river’s bridges that I love. My office is located in an area boasting fantastic restaurants on every corner. I have, within walking distance, the choice of just about any type of food I crave. There’s even a convenient drug store across the street where I frequently pick up items we need at home or a snack to get me through the day. I stock up on post-seasonal items that go on sale for ridiculous prices! It’s way too easy.

Downtown also has a side that is not so “pretty.” Our resident population of homeless people isn’t going away. No matter how large the effort to spruce up the city, these folks have nowhere else to go. Not a day goes by that I don’t pass a homeless person on the street. I try to keep a few dollars in my pockets for those who ask. I try to offer eye contact and a smile. I try to treat them as human beings. Unfortunately, these things are not always easy to do.

If I move down toward the K Street Mall, the problem becomes bigger. Chances are, I’ll see a man dressed in rags, walking out in the middle of the street, “preaching” all kinds of cuss words at passers-by. What he is saying is very important to him. He is passionate. He is frightening! More than likely, he has some sort of mental illness. I don’t dare venture to guess how he became the way he is. I just try to get past him as quickly as possible.

It’s so sad to me, though. My heart is broken for these people. I know that the same God that loves me, looks down on them with the same love. It is hard to accept that this life has dealt out a rotten hand to so many people. Who’s really to blame? Their families? Their former employers? Themselves? I suppose they all have a different story.

The life of Chris Garner, as portrayed in the film, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” is so inspiring. What amazing life experiences that man has endured and accomplished! It’s the ultimate happy ending. So tempting to see a lot of the Sacramento homeless as Chris Garners walking around, just waiting for that open door, that big break, that one person who will give them a chance to turn their lives around. And I wish I could give them that with all my heart. Wishful thinking?

God has gifted me with a great compassion for people. I habitually place myself in the shoes of others and try to see the world from their eyes. It’s automatic. And it’s often a heavy burden to bear: knowing that folks are hurting and being unable to do much about it. If I’m not careful, I will literally worry myself into a panic, so I find myself praying for strangers all the time. “God, please give them an opportunity today to know Your Love.” or “Please let them be blessed beyond measure this week.” I know God answers those prayers, and I bet He even sometimes says YES.

My little church runs a food and clothing closet that regularly provides for 60+ local families each week. I think it is an incredible ministry. People rely on our Body to meet their needs regularly. The congregation has to be constantly reminded to give, but I’m thankful for the reminders because, to be honest, it’s easy to forget. Our help is more often solicited on behalf of foreign need; if we’re not alert, we might miss the hurting right in our own backyards.

To pass along my pastor’s latest plea, I’d like to ask my readers to remember the homeless as the weather takes a turn. The wind, rain, and snow are huge factors in their ability to survive. Pray that they find safe shelter. Donate blankets, coats, socks, gloves, hats, and umbrellas to those outlets that serve the homeless in your area. Maybe your church doesn’t have a food and clothing closet… But I bet another one does. Let’s open our eyes to the many ways we can and should help needy neighbors.

I urge you to fill your heart with compassion, and let it flow out into your community. All the while, remember to thank Your Father for the blessings He has bestowed upon you.

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3 responses

11 10 2007
Rowan

Great post, Annie. Thanks for the reminder.

18 10 2007
Margie

Annie, I agree and I do donate to the homeless in Sacramento through other venues. By the way, I live in Bowman! If you ever miss that van pool call me. I drive to CH everyday at 8:00 am or earlier. I could always ferry you downtown.

19 10 2007
redcedar

Margie, you are so sweet. Thanks!

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