ADELE BUTLER – Women of Spirit: Reaching Out

 

REACHING OUT

 

 

About four years ago, my boyfriend and I were passing the homeless youth shelter and we saw a young girl sitting on the steps outside. She looked hungry and tired and as if she had the whole world on her thin shoulders. She looked up and saw us. She called out to us, asking for help. The shelter was not yet open and probably not for several hours. Fortunately it was still light and the temperature was mild. My boyfriend gave her money so that she could buy something to eat.

The image of that teen girl stayed with me. I emailed the shelter and told my contact there about the girl. I prayed that she was taken care of. I wish that I had stayed and talked to her—found out what her story was. Many teens are at the shelter for many reasons. But they have one thing in common. They are valuable in the eyes of God. Even though society might pass them by or they might feel as if the world has forgotten them or their parents have forsaken them, they have a heavenly Father who yearns to pour His love and attention on them. This is where the church, the body of Christ, comes in. As Christians we are helpers of the poor. We are God’s vessels of love and compassion.

Jesus says to those who dedicate themselves to helping the less fortunate, “Whenever you helped any of My people here—even the weakest or the poorest—you helped Me.” We can see Jesus in the faces of each of His children who suffer. And as we help them, it is like helping Jesus personally. As the Son of Man, Jesus is a brother to every descendant of Adam. His followers are part of the great web of humanity and we should feel like brothers and sisters to all. Jesus’ love reaches out to the fallen, sinful people around us, and every act of kindness done for them is accepted as if it were done to Jesus Himself (Messiah, page 343).

Our compassion should not be only towards those who are believers. It should extend to everyone. And we are not to condemn someone because she is pregnant and living in a shelter. We do not know her circumstances nor do we need to. All we should be concerned with is helping that person the best that we can. We meet whatever needs she has. We encourage rather than condemn. We reach out to that individual in love and that will open their hearts to receive God if they choose to. If we try to talk to them about doctrines or tell them that having a chid out of wedlock is a sin that would put them off. Jesus did not always preach to people. He reached them where they were. If they were in need of food, He fed them. If they were in need of healing, He healed them. If they needed to learn about God or how to live godly lives, He taught them.

Ellen G White says it best. “Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. God calls not only for our gifts for the needy, but for our cheerful countenance, our hopeful words, our kindly handclasp. When Christ healed the sick, He laid His hands upon them. So should we come in close touch with those whom we seek to benefit (To be Like Jesus, page 261).

God has given us great opportunities to come into physical contact with those whom we are supposed to help. The Touch of Love program enables church members to feed the homeless and affords them the joy of seeing that they are meeting a great need and at the same time, sharing the love of Christ. Good Samaritan Ministry is there to help women, children and youth living in homeless shelters. I had the opportunity to interact with the residents of these shelters.

There are two experiences I will always remember. One was when I went to the women’s shelter and we gave a staff member TTC tickets. Her face just lit up when she saw them. She told my assistant and me, “Thank you for these. It just so happens that one of the women is going for an appointment tomorrow and she needed tickets.” God had met this woman’s need, through us. Another experience was when we were at the youth shelter and one of the youth saw us in the office with the donations. He asked if the donations were for them. When I said yes, a big smile came over his face and he said, “Cool.” God allowed us to see how important and necessary it is for us to help these people and how much they appreciate it.

God wants us to go out there and spread His love to the young mother who is expecting her first child or the young man whose father dropped him off at the shelter to teach him a lesson. God wants us to not only give donations but also our time and talents. The women’s shelter needs volunteers to help out with the donations, children’s program and other programs. The youth need mentoring. They need a strong role model to talk to them, encourage and support them. They need love and attention. They need to know that somebody out there cares about them. They need to build up their self-esteem. They need to realize their self-worth. And God wants us to be the instruments through which His love can be manifested. We need to be actively involved in our community. We need to carry light and hope everywhere, especially in places where the only things that exist are anger and despair. Jesus commands us to “Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Let us do our part because Jesus sees it all. He says, “While you were partying with your beautiful table settings, I was starving in a shack. While you were relaxing in your elegant home, I was homeless on the street. While you were choosing your entertainment for the evening, I was wasting away in prison. When you give a little money or a few morsels of food to the hungry, when you did donate a worn out coat or blanket to the homeless, did you remember that you were giving those things to Me—the King of heaven? Everyday of your life I was near to you in the person of these needy ones, but you didn’t look for Me. You refused to have any relationship with Me. So I don’t know you” (Messiah, page 344).

When you give to the needy, give your best because whatever you giving to them, you are giving to Jesus. We should not think that because these poor souls are in homeless shelters that we can give them things that we would not want for ourselves. Just as you give of your best to your Master, do likewise to those who are created in His image and He will be pleased. Every helpful act of mercy makes music in heaven. Unselfish workers are among God’s most precious treasures (Messiah, page 343).

 

Let our works glorify God and bless others. One day those we help may declare,

we will bless the Lord From this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!”

(Psalm 115:18)

~Adele Butler, 2011

 

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