This week, my workplace delivered meals for the Summer Lunch Program. The SLP delivers meals to children who are eligible for free lunches during the school year, who might otherwise not have lunch. I signed my family up to help. So Sunday night, the kids made 25 bologne sandwiches. They prayed for the kids who would receive them, and they made the same lunches to bring to camp.
On Monday, I delievered the lunches. I drove down streets I know well, and some I didn't. At most houses, I was greeted cheerfully by the kids, who were happy to see lunch arrive. I was sad, though, as most of the time there were younger siblings we hadn't packed lunch for.
There were only two houses I didn't have someone answer the door. In the first one, the person hadn't heard me knock, and we met in the stairwell as I did a take two.
The second one was at a house that had been divided into four apartments (somewhat like our house when we bought it). It was unit #4, but I didn't see a clearly marked #4, so I figured I must have the wrong door. So I called. We didn't have a good connection, so it took me a while to figure out what the mom was saying.
The family had moved. And not to another house...to a hotel. A fleabag motel, about a block from my house. My route was on the other side of town, so I finished my deliveries, then headed there and dropped off the bag with bologne sandwiches, yogurt, apples, juice boxes and chips. There was a "do not disturb" sign on the door. It was the only "unit" with a "welcome mat" by the door and prayer candles in the window. I was greeted by a ~10 year old girl, reaching through a barely cracked open door. I could see a shelving unit just inside the door, holding all their clothes. She whispered "thank you", then closed the door.
I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. I know that in a town like ours, the run down motels are the last stop before homelessness. The math also doesn't make sense--I inquired at the desk, and the weekly rate was $220. That's over $800 a month--way more than a regular apartment would cost (on a monthly basis).
It makes me feel angry.
It makes me feel powerless.
It brings me to my knees.
So I've been praying for the people in 217.
But James 2:15-16 asks more of me: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"
That brings me right back to my knees...what will meet their physical needs? What will meet their spiritual needs? What's the best use of our resources? How can this be used to draw them closer to God?
On Sunday we went to the Cincinnati Vineyard. (Man, that feels like a long time ago!) The sermon series was on "Perfect takes Practice" and touched on Peter stepping out of the boat. This is definitely a chance to practice, to step out in faith. To offer my meager bologne sandwiches, and ask God to do a miracle with them.
God, you fed five thousand with a few loaves and a couple of fish. I ask you to do another miracle in the hearts and stomachs of 217. I pray for release of the prisoner and feeding of the hungry---both spiritual and physical. Show us how to help and how to point them to you, their ultimate provider.