I spent Saturday with Metro Relief, a not-for-profit organization with a simple goal: Go to the people, meet the people, and serve the people. They currently operate from two locations Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX and Columbus, OH. I participated with the Dallas Relief Bus, which took us to two locations in downtown Dallas. This was my first time to serve the homeless.
Our first stop was to Malcolm X Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in Southeast Dallas. We setup shop: tables, chairs, war room (prayer room), socks, hygiene kits and of course food. On the menu was soup with rice, bread and lemonade, which was fantastic!
Many of the homeless recognized the leaders of our group, Jason, John and Alex as they are familiar faces to them. I found out very quickly how much the homeless appreciated the Relief Bus and how thankful they were for community. The first person I met was a guy named James who is 67 years old. He has been on and off the streets since 1979 and loves the Dallas Cowboys. Although his speech was broken, his mind was sharp.
Just as I was getting to know my new friend James, Cindy sat down. Cindy grew up in Tennessee and remembers her grandfather always picking roses and laying them on the porch for her when she would visit their farm. In between bites of her bread and soup, Cindy shared with me that she grew up going to a catholic school.
I was shocked and surprised by how authentic these conversations were with the homeless. They are real people, with real names and real stories. As we were concluding this stop and packing up our gear to move to a new location, I asked if I could pray for my new friends. Cindy mentioned she had two dogs growing up named Mercy and Grace and would love to pray. As we prayed together, Cindy lit up a cigarette, which was a first for me during prayer.
Our second stop took us to Tent City. Tent City consists of four blocks of makeshift homes that are the most visible representation of homelessness in Dallas. There has been a lot of violence in this area and the city plans on shutting down Tent City on May 4, 2016. This begs the question, where will the homeless then go?
Personally, I felt that Tent City was a very interesting stop. I met Roy, Red and John and a few other people and the conversation instantly turned to faith. I found many of my new friends with a type of faith I have never seen before in person. Although lacking in material possessions, their faith was rock solid. They knew Jesus and put their hope in Him. Scripture reads,
But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. –Jeremiah 17:7
To see this in real life, with my own eyes, with my new friends that literally have nothing but Jesus was incredible! On our bus ride home, it was blowing my mind as I thought about how much my new friends knew and loved Jesus and were blessed!
Next time you see a homeless person, ask them for their name. They have a story and many are looking for community. This trip made a huge dent on my heart. As I continue to put my trust in God, I saw it manifested in serving others. As a matter of fact, that is when I saw it the clearest. Like a vail being lifted from my eyes. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. –Matthew 20:28
Click here to get involved with Metro Relief.
Thank you Alex for the pictures and the invitation to join!