by Andy Rodriguez
My brothers and sisters, I have been asked to share a bit about the progress Imago Dei is making on the “A” portion of our P.E.A.C.E. plan: Aiding the Sick and the Poor.
For the past several months many of us have been visiting the homeless community in Raleigh on a weekly basis. We typically meet up on Saturday mornings, target a specific “tent community”, and head out to serve them by cleaning their campsites, sharing lunch together, spending time in the Word, or simply spending time talking.
As a background a “tent community” is a group of homeless people living in the woods who, for the most part, have accepted they will be without a home for the foreseeable future for various reasons/ circumstances: illegal immigrant status, bodies enslaved by alcohol, slight mental instability, harsh upbringings (bleak outlook on life), difficulty adjusting to society after serving as soldiers…
While all this is a reality that can be disheartening and intimidating, I can confidently say I have seen some of the greatest examples of humility, kindness, and servitude among these people. They look after each other by comforting in sickness, accountability through addictions, sharing of all possessions … In their poverty, they give freely to each other when there is need, without hesitation. These are priceless lessons to learn that are commanded throughout God’s Word.
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Opportunities to be obedient in sharing the Gospel in this context abound. One of humanities greatest hurdle to accept Christ is our pride: these friends in the woods are striving just to feel human. Pride’s grip in these communities is greatly weakened. That being said it is God who works in the hearts of men and draws them unto Himself.
Praise the Lord, many of them have come to know the Lord as their savior! Some before our time there and some right before our eyes! What faith they have in their circumstances! Many times I have left shamed in light of how highly they speak of God.
One of the most amazing and immediate rewards in serving these people is having a small part in restoring the knowledge that we are ALL created in the Image of God. Unfortunately, society typically takes one glance at these souls and deems them unworthy of love, attention, and effort. They are dehumanized instantaneously. In simply spending time with our friends in the woods, hearing their stories, encouraging them through their difficult situations, and acknowledging their gifts and talents, God has used us to remind them of two of the most important truths we cling to:
- God loves each of them
- We were created in God’s image. And though we are fallen, we reflect his attributes.
When these become a reality in their minds they undeniably realize their inherent value. I have witnessed this first hand on several occasions: as we are wrapping up our visits, one of our friends will cling to one of us and in tears thank us for “our” time. This is palpable evidence of God’s grace and in its purest form, it overwhelms them.
Psalm 140:12 “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”
I pray more of you will join us in being conduits of God’s grace to these people.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to join!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Much love from your brother in Christ,