by Peg Kinkade, Child Care Director
It was a surprisingly warm Sunday afternoon for January. I came home and took off my “church clothes” and put on something more comfortable. I had household chores and some cooking to do.
As the afternoon progressed, I heard rain was in the weekly forecast. I remembered that I had offered to deliver some things to the homeless shelter for Cindy Johnston and decided I’d rather to go downtown on a sunny afternoon. (A much better choice than washing the kitchen floor!)
I grabbed an ice tea and headed to the Deep Ellum area. it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly. I opened the car windows.I cranked up the radio. I thanked God for a beautiful, sunny day (in January!)
I arrived at the Austin Street Centre after 2 p.m., just in time for the afternoon intake time. A long line of people (and their possessions) snaked along the side walk. Everyone was waiting their turn to come inside.
I pulled inside the tall fence and parked my car. I finished my iced tea and helped the volunteers unpack my donations. I visited with those in line and the staff working the gate. Mission accomplished! I headed back to my car to head home. I reached for my cup and nothing. I was thirsty and my cup was empty.
I can solve this problem. I grabbed my purse and headed inside to the vending machine. I opened my wallet. All I had were $20 bills. You can’t ask for change at a homeless shelter.
Back to car. I dug around for change. Under the floor mat. Between the seats. Nothing. I couldn’t come up with 75 cents.
Third try. I grabbed my Tervis tumbler (my $20 cup) and headed back to the shelter kitchen. I asked the kitchen staff for a cup of water or iced tea. The kitchen staff told me “No. You have to wait for meal service.” I was dumbfounded. I was humbled.
In the midst of intake, I confused the staff. Instead of seeing me as a Volunteer and Donor, I was perceived to be a homeless resident. I was thirsty. I asked for a drink. I was turned away.
I was reminded of the scripture: “for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in…” Matthews 25:42, 43
I apologized for the inconvenience and turned to walk away back to my car. I would need to wait until I got home. Instantly, the kitchen personnel saw me in a different light. Now, they apologized to me and quickly filled my cup. How things had changed in two minutes!
I pondered this encounter as I drove home (with a cupful of water). The scripture rolled around in my head. How often do we fail to really “see” one another? How often do we miss an opportunity to serve one another?
Open your eyes to ministry. Open your eyes to Christ’s call.