I've been thinking about this post all weekend. And since I'm typically more of a "start-typing-and-who-knows-what-might-come-out" blogger, you know that it's close to my heart.
The nature of the type of work we do means we get asked for a lot of STUFF. People have needs, and we want to do our best to help meet people's physical needs so that we can minister to the deeper needs of their heart. But lately we have been reading and studying some things that are teaching us to do our best not to enable the people we work with by increasing their dependence on us (and not only that, but a lot of times when we give them stuff, we not only increase their poverty of spirit by making them more dependent, but we also increase our own poverty in that we become prideful . . .) The truth is that many of the families we work with could actually meet their own needs with a little help, teaching, prodding . . .
But there's this one family we work closely with, and their mama is an absolutely gem. She is the most grateful, sweet, loving person. Who never asks us for anything. Truly. Now granted, she has made some BAD decisions. And as a result, she has 7 kids and one grand-baby who live with her, in one bedroom. Not a one-bedroom apartment, just one bedroom. Period.
This sweet lady, April, told her daughter's mentor that she didn't have any winter jackets for her kids. And people, it has been COLD up in here lately. So I felt a little panicky for my kiddos. And we gathered some folks who all bought coats and we ended up with some really nice winter coats for her kids. Adam and I wanted to bring them to her right away, so Friday night after a dinner meeting, we headed downtown.
We pulled up to their building, waving off all the people who naturally assumed we were there to purchase some of their wares (if you know what I mean). We grabbed several big Gap bags and shivered on the front porch while we waited for her to answer the door. Entering her room, I was able to make out all seven kids huddled on the queen sized bed, by the light of one small flickering candle. She explained that they only had one outlet that worked, and they were using it for a small space heater since there was no heat. I looked down as a small hand slipped into mine, and I embraced little Raymone tightly, tears slipping down my cheeks as he asked if he could please some stay at our house. I opened my mouth to tell him yes, forever, but Adam explained that we had brought him a winter jacket and would be back to pick him up for church on Sunday.
I sat down and pulled Ray Ray into my lap. He softly whispered in my ear: "Becca, I love white people." Surprised, I looked at him and asked "Why?"
"Because they are SO nice," he said earnestly. I responded with a hug, and explained that it isn't the color of your skin that makes you nice or mean, but rather what's inside your heart. I told him that the reason we were so nice to him was only because Jesus lived inside of us, and Jesus loved him so so much.
At one point during our little conversation, I looked up to see Adam telling April that we wanted to move downtown so she could bring the kids over to play, and sit with us and drink coffee. Or to do her laundry. Tears streamed down her face, and babies snuggled on the bed, Ray Ray sat in my lap, and Lee was holding my hand.
And all of a sudden I knew just a little bit of what it felt like in the stable so long ago, as Jesus lay sleeping in a manger: a bed not fit for a baby, let alone a King. And yet it was holy, peaceful, joyful even. Because Jesus IS the least of these, and His presence can warm even the darkest room, the draftiest stable.
It is moments like these that I remember how much our Savior loves and provides for every single one of His children, and I remember how blessed we are to be able to serve Him in the darkest places. Because that's usually where we find Him, where we expect Him the least and need Him the most.