When I read scripture about Jesus and his disciples, I get so intrigued by the places they go and how far they travel. It also makes me think how they would often have to rely on the body of believers to give them shelter as they traveled from place to place. More importantly, the body came together as a community to hear stories and testimonies, share faith, and to celebrate all the work God was doing. Similarly, this winter season, we had the opportunity to open the doors to our house (the church) at
Seacoast’s West Ashley Campus, to provide a warming shelter for our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness. Our hope was that we would be like the body of believers who took Jesus and his disciples into their homes and cared for them. The shelter not only provided a warm place to stay, but included a hot meal for individuals staying there. This allowed us to do something we don’t normally have the opportunity to do….listen. And I mean really listen.
We heard stories of people losing homes after losing jobs. We heard stories of veterans who disproportionately experience homelessness, and the stories of people like you and me who have faced hardships—but with the major difference that they lost their home in the process. Listening to these stories helped give us a picture of what life was like for them, and for them to hear our stories. One of the volunteers had experienced homelessness himself and was able to tell his story and instill some hope in those now going through it.
“Listening to these stories helped give us a picture of what life was like for them, and for them to hear our stories.”
The shelter created a place for us to start to build community and relationships. It became a safe place to listen, share stories, pray, and to celebrate. We celebrated when our shelter guests found work, and we celebrated their first days on the job! More importantly, we celebrated when the Gospel was shared and when our friends started to pick up and read the Bible.
Let’s continue to open the doors to the house and take what we know to be true about the Gospel and apply it. Let’s truly live out what Matthew 25 says, “for whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”