My wife’s interfaith shelter received two donations of food last week, one from a church and one from a non-religious organization.
One donation was a bag of food per person. Each bag had a roast beef sandwich, a ham sandwich, 2 small cans of orange juice, a bag of cookies, a granola cereal bar, condiments, and a ziploc bag of napkins, plastic gloves, plastic untensils and salt and pepper.
Another donation was a box full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A couple of them with made from the butt ends.
Care to guess which one came from the church and which one came from the non-religious organization?
My wife said that the people at the shelter saw the PBJs being dropped off for their dinner. One person came up to her and said, “Christians just don’t understand. Just because we’re homeless, they think they could give us anything, and we should be grateful for it.”
The shelter has a pantry full of food, a fridge and freezer full of food. With all that food, it just didn’t seem right to give the people JUST PBJ sandwiches for their dinner.
I’m not saying ALL Christians do this, and I’m not saying your church or all churches are doing this, but there are too many of us who just miss the point.
If you are thinking, ‘well they’re in a shelter, and they should be thankful for whatever kind of food they get’ then, all I can say to you is, ‘that’s messed up that you think that way.’
Too many people have a box of stuff that they were going to throw away, but decided it could be better used for the homeless. While the people in need should be grateful that you thought of them, a shelter is not a place where you go to drop off your ‘trash.’
My wife had turn away donations from “Christians” who brought in old socks with holes, clothes with holes, pants that are falling apart, blankets that are ripped, toys with missing limbs, dolls with missing eyes, and so forth. Mind you, they’re not all from “Christians.” But many of the homeless people had bad experiences with Christians. Some of them say they feel like a charity case, and obligation that the Christians try to meet half-heartedly.
You know, when we go to heaven, God’s not going to ask us about our beliefs and our stance on issues. God’s not going to ask us whether we voted for or against Prop 8. God’s not going to ask us whether we were pro-life or pro-choice. But God’s going to ask us what we did in His name. How we loved. God’s going to ask, ‘what did you do?’
And I would hate for anyone to hear:
When I was hungry, instead of putting your heart into giving me a decent meal, you made me PBJ sandwiches.
When I was naked, you gave me socks with holes and pants that you were going to throw away.
All I’m saying is let’s truly care and love these people, with our actions, with our words and with our giving. We shouldn’t look at helping the poor as an obligation, but as a ministry that’s full of love, grace and mercy. And the kind of love that will warm someone’s heart on any given cold day.
They are people too. People in need. People that Jesus would spend more time with than the people in the church making PBJ sandwiches.