The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Column: What are you called to do to help the poor?
By Heather Ablondi
LOOKING at the man standing at the intersection with the scribbled-on cardboard sign, I am overwhelmed by a familiar, yet uncomfortable feeling.
His disheveled clothes and dirt-stained face indicate that he does not have a place to call his own. His hunched shoulders bear evidence of someone carrying the weight of the world. But it is his eyes that haunt me the most. They tell the tale of someone who has hit rock bottom and who has no hope.
The seconds seem to turn to minutes as I wait for the light to change. I try not to look at him–try not to make eye contact. I ignore him because I feel like there isn’t anything I can do.
I am at war with myself. I know that as a Christian, I am called to care for the poor. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells me that what I do for the most insignificant person, I am doing for him. But in the moment it is too difficult. So I pray that someone else will be able to help.
When the light turns green, I hurriedly move on and try to forget the man standing on the corner.
Except I can’t forget him. I see a different version of him everywhere I go. On the corner of Bragg Road and State Route 3. Walking down Sophia Street. Sitting on a bench along U.S. 1.
Their stories are different, but their eyes are the same. Eyes that are praying for someone to notice them and to treat them like they matter.
Coming home from the store one day, my daughters ask why there is a man standing on the corner holding a sign. I explain that he is poor and does not have a home. Their innocent response humbles me. “Mom, can he can stay
I quickly explain that we can’t bring him to our house. They look disappointed and ask what we can do for him. I spy a box of cookies in the back, the ones that they begged me for, and ask if they want to give them to the man. They immediately agree. I throw on the flashers, hop out of the car, grab the cookies and hand them to him.
“They are not much, but it is something,” I say as I look into his eyes. This time I see a slight sparkle,
That is when I realize that God has not asked me to fix all of the poor and downtrodden’s problems. I may not be able to provide shelter or a job for those in need, but I can use the resources I do have to show Christ’s love to all.
There are many ways, big and small, that we can help those in need. I once had a friend who carried gift certificates to fast-food restaurants in her purse to give away when she saw someone who needed a meal. Instead of throwing out that pair of jeans that doesn’t fit anymore or that toy your children has become bored with, donate them to one of the local shelters.
I know times are tough financially, but if you are able, give money to one of the many groups in our area that assist the homeless. No donation is too small–or too large.
If monetary resources are limited, we can donate our time at a soup kitchen, at Micah Ministries (which serves the homeless) or at the Fredericksburg Food Bank.
Never underestimate the impact of sharing your professional skills or your hobbies. Clerical workers can offer job training. Doctors and lawyers can offer their services. Those who love cooking, sewing, gardening, photography or knitting can all find ways to use their talents to help others.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a kind, encouraging word and a smile. Proverbs 16:24 tells us that pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Someone who has lost everything needs soul nourishment just as much, if not more, than physical nourishment.
As you go about your daily routine, remember that Jesus does not ask Christians to do everything. He merely asks us to do something.
Heather Ablond is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. Contact her at heatherablondi.com.