Just a few months ago, I met a beautiful guy. He showed up at church one Sunday and began asking around if there was some way that he could be of some help to the hungry or homeless.
What struck me immediately is that this fellow felt as though he had a duty to help those in need.
We talked for a bit, I will tell you that I liked him right away.
Within a few days he was helping out at The Good Samaritan Shelter, providing rides to various services for people that he had just met. Before long he was helping out at St. Peter’s Church, preparing lunch for folks in need.
This didn’t seem like enough for him.
So, he made a seemingly preposterous suggestion. After giving the background that he lived alone in a four bedroom house following the passing of his parents, he suggested that he give me a key to his house, and I could drop off people there that were in need of a place to stay.
The explanation was this. “It’s not my house, I gave it to Christ.”
I recoiled in surprise and a bit of terror. “You can’t just do that,” I explained.
His expression forced me to explain that people might take advantage of the situation and that furthermore, everyone has to pay something for housing.
He just shrugged.
My work at The Good Samaritan Shelter informs me that I know people that have just such a need, but I felt that a program laden with rules and precautions would have to be put into place.
I met with Nate Hoffer, the Executive Director, and later with Tim Barr, Resident Manager, both from Good Samaritan Shelter. I was a bit relieved when both of these guys had the same look of wonder that I had, and responded with something like my own…”You can’t just do that.”
It was Nate who finally said “Why not?”
Together we met with this kind gentleman, to explain all of the precautions and rules necessary. He discarded them all. When we suggested that, at the very least, a modest rent should be paid, and taking part in household chores should be required, he vetoed both.
We settled on this. Participants should go to church and Bible study weekly, at the place of their own choosing.
When he left we were all still shaking our heads, torn between “You can’t do that,” and “Why can’t you”?
Within a few days we had tracked down a former resident of the shelter and made the offer to him. He never said “What’s the catch?” but you could measure it’s presence.
It’s early in this ministry, but I can report that… so far/so good.
I think about the words of my Bishop, Bishop Daniels and his call for us all of us to be about “crazy ministry.”
Now I wonder who the crazy people really are. Is it the man that offers heat and warmth and safety and friendship within his own home to strangers, or is it the rest of us that rationalize all of the reasons why this is unsafe, or not helpful, or enabling or…just plain crazy.
I think about the guest rooms, in houses like my own, with the perfectly made bed and the pretty pillows, and how they goes unused for very long stretches.
Empty warm comfortable rooms, while others have no place to rest their head.
Yep, it’s crazy alright. Crazy in a Jesus sort of way.