I will spend today (November 10) at the annual Thanksgiving service project for New Hope Christian College. Students, faculty, administration, staff and families will take over a building downtown to feed, clothe, visit and love the homeless members of our community.
I’ve been attracted to the homeless community ever since my father took me to the Medford Gospel Mission when I was sixteen years old. (This is a shameless appeal to involve your children in activities of justice and compassion.)
What I remember about that first experience of serving the homeless is still true today. I couldn’t help but recognize that the visitors to the mission looked very much different from me. My clothes were relatively new, recently laundered and ironed. Theirs were not. For about seven minutes, the differences in external appearance were a problem to me.
Then I sat down to talk to the men. As soon as I did, I recognized that these were men with experiences and values the same as mine. They had families they cared about. They had schedules they strived to keep. They had opinions about politics and the local economy.
More and more, I view my time with homeless citizens not as helper to needy, but as members of a community fellowshipping. As I allow my life to be impacted by the people around me, I find that my life is always enriched.
Contributed by Mark Kelley, Eugene Friends