Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Friends

The first time I saw them, it was a cold and blistery day. November was closing its chapter and the truest of winter months was just hours away. But no one should be walking on a highway service road unless carrying a gas can. They were dressed appropriately, donning warm scarves and knit hats, backpacks looking full and heavy.

And pushing a stroller.

My heart sank as I passed them at 60 mph and I stared at them in my rearview mirror. Where are they going? Where did they come from? And most importantly: why do they have a small child with them? My mind raced to answer the questions and I decided, with much hesitation, that they must live in a nearby apartment and were headed to the mall for Christmas shopping. After all, the intersection was full of the most popular places to buy holiday gifts and restaurants to fill hungry tummies. Little did I know they had only eaten peanut butter & crackers that day. With a blink of an eye and a blinking turn signal, they were gone and I continued on to my errands.

On a quick impulse after dinner that evening, Zoe and I headed out for a girl's night, needing the ever-essential Bath & Body Works (I had a coupon!) and was reminded to pick up dog food for Sadie. We drove through Starbucks to get our appropriate sized cups of hot chocolate and were listening to Christmas music when I nearly drove off the road.

The bundled trio was timidly preparing to cross the street as I passed them in the even bleaker darkness of night. I swerved to the turning lane, pulled a quick u-turn, and frantically searched for them as I stuffed my purse under my legs and pulled out my cell phone, in case things went wrong.

Travis. Kristen. and little Rachel Elizabeth.

Travis is already homeless, and has been on and off the streets since he was 12. He is most recently finding shelter at night inside the unlocked fitness rooms of area apartment complexes. Kristen & Rachel are living with a family of five, in a two bedroom apartment, all on the verge of being evicted., with no place to go.

Zoe and I bought them dinner at Potbellys as they shared their stories. Kristen is just a year younger than I am and Rachel turns three in January. They ate at Whataburger for Thanksgiving because they had no electricity. Kristen was the first to ask if I went to church - God's power is bright and clear when the needs of the oppressed are met by His people - and I gushed over our community and how much we love our church. I told them we meet on Sunday nights for a big meal and talk about Christ-centered community.

Kristen called our meeting "divine intervention" and I agreed, my casual response tame compared to the surge of Kingdom Coming that was beating in my heart. After putting a few dollars in each of their hands, a drive to Kroger to use food stamps, we drove them to the apartment with more a sense of something beginning than something about to end. Never once did I feel unsafe or unwise for putting my daughter in such a situation. My God challenges that we serve and love and provide for the least of these and Zoe was able to witness first hand the Gospel.

I told her we wanted to have a play date in a couple of days (after all, she's a mom before she's a nearly-homeless woman) and insisted that we would pick them up on Sunday and take them to church with us. I can already see their hearts warming towards our friends, being loved by a people most made to love, and realizing there are no strings attached to our kindness.

Please pray for them. Pray for Brad and I to show them the most beautiful love...crazy love. Bold love. Love that washes their fears away like melted snow and love that believes for the impossible to be made right in their hearts.

If you are interested in helping us help them, there are practical needs. Rachel needs clothes and diapers. Travis needs a place to sleep. They both need jobs immediately and have already set their sights on a very affordable one-bedroom apartment. Please email me or call me if you would like to help. There is no better time to remember how very fortunate we are and how very much we have.


Emily said...

Oh my. So proud of you for listening to what God would have you do and for having the courage to defy your fears and comfort zone! Many prayers and best of luck to you all.

Ashley said...

You're a star. All I have to say to this is YES.