According to our facts, on any given night there will be roughly 1600 individuals residing in my shelter (both indoors and outdoors). That’s a large community!
Between 3,500 and 4,500 individuals experience homelessness each night in San Antonio. So around 1000-2000 are without assistance.
As a Minister to Youth and their families, (and one of the main reasons I am on this journey)…here is the alarming fact:
Over 25% of the homeless are children and teenagers, half of which are under age 5. To add to the problem….Family homelessness in Texas has increased 15.9% since 2008.
(Each year, 25,000 people in San Antonio experience homelessness in some form or fashion.)
Due to the fact that I have been staying in an adult outdoor shelter or in an abandoned barn, I have not experienced many situations with homeless children.
However, the other night…I experienced children serving homeless adults under the 9th Street/281 bridge near downtown. The ministry is called Taking it to the Streets.
Taking it to the Streets is an ecumenical ministry based out of Boerne, TX and led by a church called “Nineteen:Ten“. Every Friday night, they meet under the 9th Street Bridge in Downtown San Antonio and serve homeless citizens meals, clothes, and a loving community. (Go to their website and you can volunteer your church to serve one week!)
The other night, the good people from nineteen:ten and other volunteers helped serve food and pass out bibles. (Even ran into some youth from my former church, UUMC.)
Here is the crazy thing….young kids from their children’s ministry were the ones walking around, talking with the homeless, and passing out water, bibles, and devotionals.
The adults and teenagers were behind the table serving the food and clothes…and their kids (4-6 years old) were evangelizing. (The parents were following their kids at a distance…but it was crowded.)
I was fascinated.
Why would a parent allow their kids to interact so freely with the homeless? Don’t they know the dangers? These people could present harm to their kids….or produce fear within them.
I don’t know what my church would do? I know there would be a lot of paperwork involved.
Here is the great thing about what I saw….
It was obvious the kids understood that they were serving people in need…and they were excited to serve by the looks on their faces and their eagerness to help. I am sure they understood the ” simple gesture “of passing out water and Bibles. Thought: “Simple Gestures (done in Love) are a vocabulary without words.”
Observing them…I could tell they had very little (or no) prejudice or stereotyped opinions about the homeless. They were treating them like everyone else! During the whole night, they treated everyone equally ..and with the same amount of love and joy.
Adults and teenagers have trouble with this concept. (It takes a lot of effort to drop our strerotypes.) Sure, adults were serving…but too often, adults can exude a self-righteous attitude when they serve the poor. I know I can. Regardless of our good intentions….that old weakness can sneak up on us and shine through the cracks in our surface!
It’s us and them.
The rich helping the poor.
The “blessed”and the “not so blessed.” The better and the worse.
The givers and the takers.
The volunteers and the homeless.
Adults create divisions…even in how we speak and serve.
These children didn’t grapple with this problem.
They served as equals.
Maybe this is why Jesus called us in Mark 9&10 “to have the faith of a child.” A faith eager to serve, live equally, experience wonder, and trust when many people say its foolish to trust…especially when we perceive possible danger.
It is foolish…but God desires that type of faith. 1 Cor. 1:27
If we minister in a fearless Faith…we can participate in the Kingdom of God…and experience the true Love of God in all that we do… Regardless of who’s got the money.
The Lord calls us to practice it! Church is all about practicing God’s love. It’s a consent pursuit until God returns.
Just the other night, I saw the children from Boerne experiencing a taste of God’s Kingdom under the 9th street bridge….Calling each of us to practice living out Love in our own lives.
It was a beautiful picture of Christ.
In the form of a small Child.