Each day this week, Maryland Hunger Solutions is sending out an email with a different facet of the problem of hunger to reflect on . The theme yesterday was homelessness. What hit me the most is that a lot of states do not accept food stamps for prepared foods. I believe in Maryland, food stamps can only be used on groceries. As a dietitian, I have always felt strongly in the past about food stamps being used just on healthy foods, fresh produce, and groceries. I used to hate the proposed bills to allow food stamps to be used at fast food restaurants. But today, I realized that there are homeless people on food stamps that do not have a way to cook anything! I did a good bit of work with the homeless population in college, but never really connected it to my profession before. And even people who have housing may have a limited kitchen or may deal with their power getting shut off frequently.
In Baltimore, there are homeless people EVERYWHERE. It’s not like other cities where there’s one part of town where they hang out and people try to avoid it. The sermon at church this week was about Jesus and the woman in Samaria. The fact that Jesus went through that town on his Journey and not around it was pretty radical since the Jews hated the Samaritans. I am always blown away by Jesus’ perfect balance of grace and truth. The order is significant. He first showed the woman grace by offering her living water, and then spoke truth into her life.
I’m not saying you have to give money to every homeless person that asks you or walk around alone in Sandtown at 2 am, but I just think we need to be aware of the needs around us and have a heart for people made in the image of God. It’s not our job to judge their motives; God just calls us to give. I want to challenge you to find something that works for you. For me, I keep granola bars or snacks in my purse and my car for my commute and I frequently give those out when asked for money. Some people don’t even want money. They just want the dignity of being treated like a human being. So if I don’t have anything on me, the least I can do is look them in the eye and acknowledge them, maybe even smile and ask how they’re doing.
The cardboard signs I see daily are a reminder to me of my own brokenness. We all have struggles in our lives, some are just more obvious than others. There’s a YouTube video called cardboard testimonies I saw back in college and I think it’s a beautiful picture of the realness we need to have about our struggles and how God’s power can allow us to overcome them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvDDc5RB6FQ
So many sins are hidden and not talked about in the church. Just because I’m not homeless and holding a sign asking for food, does not mean I have my life together. I am just as broken if not more than that person on the street. Realizing that you are that person is key and although it may be different, we can share in the brokenness of humanity. In this economy, you are only one paycheck away from being on the street. Our benches proclaim we are the greatest city in America, but we have people everywhere who are hungry and without housing sleeping on these benches. It angers me to no end. I so badly want change and I pray for revival for this city. It can be an overwhelming problem, but the power of ONE is what motivates me. One granola bar, one smile, one conversation.
A speaker at the hunger conference shared his story once about sleeping in a shelter one night. He was asleep on the floor and the man next to him was not moving. The workers and the shelter were kicking the man trying to see if he was alive because no one wanted to touch him. The speaker said he woke up to this and leaned over to take the man’s pulse and realized he was indeed dead. In that moment, he realized that could be him: alone and dying at 40 years old as an “untouchable.” He also shared how he had type 2 diabetes when he was homeless due to the poor quality of his diet, but was able to reverse it by healthy eating once he got his own place. I love to hear success stories of food as medicine, which just so happened to be the theme of today 🙂
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:24