Today we continue with part two in our “Make a Difference” Series. Here at Bridging the Gap we believe that God has uniquely gifted each of us to make a difference in this world. In this series you’ll find stories about some of the things we, or someone we know, has done to made a difference in their little corner of the world. We hope it will inspire you to do the same.
I think it stems a lot from when I lived in downtown Minneapolis. I used to feel guilty when a homeless person would ask me for money or whatever I could spare. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to give them money, and if I didn’t have time to run to my apartment to make a sandwich, I always felt bad.
And then I moved to the suburbs, and forgot about that feeling of obligation — until I got another job downtown and started driving by homeless people on my way to work every single day. I often did the “look past them; they might not notice you if you don’t notice them” stare. As if they didn’t see me driving by in my car. Sometimes I whispered a prayer for them. But unless I had brought my lunch with me, I usually had nothing I could share.
And then I got a suburban job and forgot about it again — until I saw an episode of NCIS one night. Yes, I can honestly say that I was spiritually challenged by something I saw on TV. In that specific episode, a homeless American Veteran had been murdered, and the NCIS team was trying to figure out why he was killed and by whom. Before long, the forensic scientist in the show, Abby, recognized the man as someone she brought food to every few days, along with dog food for his dog, on her way to work. And there it was. Abby helped out when she could — why wasn’t I doing the same?
As a side job, I make purchases and deliver goods to a downtown St. Paul location several times a month. Most times, when I make the drive, I pass a certain intersection that has a homeless person with a cardboard sign asking for help. And usually it’s not the same homeless person I’ve seen before. I decided that I could be like Abby. And Jesus.
It’s not my job to judge why the person is on that corner. It’s not any of my business if he is talking on a cell phone while standing there. It doesn’t make any difference to me if he is legitimately homeless or on drugs or has just hit a rough patch. I don’t need to dissect if my gift will ruin the course of someone’s life. I just feel that I should help and do what I can, where I can.
So I started packing a lunch whenever I am preparing for my St. Paul delivery. I usually pack a generously slathered peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut in half, in case he has someone else to look after. I put in a piece of fruit, or maybe some pudding with a plastic spoon. I add in a granola bar or a package of Pop Tarts for dessert (or another meal), a bottle of water and a napkin. And then I tie it all up in a plastic grocery bag, and have it ready to hand out the window, in case I get a green light at the corner. And I look into the eyes of the person with whom I share, and I tell them that Jesus loves them.
It’s virtually no sacrifice for me to make a lunch in this way. It takes less than five minutes to put together, and I use items I already have on hand. But every time I do it, I feel like I might be bringing a bit of hope to a person who needs it. And I pray that hope upon hope might just bring change to the lives who make that corner part of their normal existence.
And I’m obeying part of Jesus’ mandate, too. Matthew 25:35-40 says, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
How can you make a difference for someone else today?