During my final year at Eastern University my roommates and I put our convictions about Jesus’ message to care for the poor to the test. One of my roommates had noticed some police activity in the parking lot of our local library and decided to investigate. He noticed the police pulling a Vietnamese woman from her packed car in the parking lot. Clearly she had been living and sleeping in her vehicle there at the library. Eastern is located in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, homeless people do not fair well in that neighborhood. My roommate told the police that he knew the woman (even though he didn’t) and would take care of her. That night I returned home from class and met My Chau for the first time.
Eastern University has a culture of social justice. My roommates and I spent four years talking about social justice, about care for the poor, but here was an opportunity to practice it. We invited My Chau to live with us until we could find her the help she needed. What followed was an entire year of young college students discovering how broken our system for caring for people like My Chau is. We ran into dead end after dead end, and we quickly realized that we—a bunch of college students—were the best people to provide her with care.
When it came time for us to graduate and move on to our next destination, we introduced My to a group of juniors living in the neighborhood. When that class graduated they introduced her to another group of Eastern students, and the cycle continued.
My eventually found a job, and was recently able to afford her own apartment. I’ve learned so much through this experience of providing hospitality to My, about what is possible when a bunch of Christian college students act on their convictions and take the words of Jesus seriously.
“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
Contributed by Mark Pratt-Russum, West Hills Friends