Reflection on Engaging with our Homeless Neighbors
The value of community and relationships has been shown to me in the past month as an intern at Kingdom Causes. I knew God created us for relationships, but after spending several hours with our homeless neighbors I have realized how important it is for us to have relationships with all types of people - not just those who we have a lot in common. By spending time with those who have areas in their life that are different from ours, it challenges us to grow and expand our world view.
My time engaging with the homeless at Celebrate Recovery services and Saturday morning breakfasts at Calvary Bellflower Church have shown me so many wonderful qualities about each individual and their unique strengths. One of the women I have had the privilege to get to know is very thoughtful and starts each conversation by earnestly asking how someone’s day is. She is a young, beautiful woman, who may not have a home, offers so much to the rest of the homeless community and those with a home. She seeks out those who are sitting by themselves in the breakfast area, and isn’t afraid to leave her boyfriend to get to know another woman. There is also an older man, who usually has a quiet personality but when a conversation is something he is interested in brings out a big smile and laugh, with unique stories told about his life.
The culture that I have observed so far has been one that is very open and trusting of each other. Almost every individual actively interacts with one another and have formed close friendships, even to those who don’t live in the same park or riverbed that they do. They help each other find work and suggest places to stay when the weather gets bad, play card games together at almost every gathering or meal they attend and appreciate conversations with those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and interact with them. I seemed to have done that so well that a few still question whether I am homeless or not!!
I have found that many find it difficult to look past the surface with a homeless individual, and in doing so neglect s to see the wonderful qualities that person has. The only difference between our homeless neighbors and us, is that we have an address. If people were to truly engage in conversations with those who do not have an address, many would be surprised to see how much we have in common. They are people full of life, despite their material losses. But how blessed are they that despite their hard circumstances, they are not lovers of money!! “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10, ESV). They already have this positive characteristic, and we should all seek to see what other strengths they have to offer us!☺