Saturday, January 17, 2015

Learning to serve together: The Union Gospel Mission

This last Thanksgiving my husband had to work all day.
I had a lovely friend in town visiting us, and I wanted to do something fun with my children.
Because we had been talking about gratefulness and being thankful for all we have,
I wanted them to have a real-life activity for them to live that out.
A place where they could see beyond their own little bubbles to a culture that is hurting and in desperate need.
So I began looking for shelters or soup kitchens that we could serve at.
It took me three tries, but I finally found an opening at the Union Gospel Mission in Dallas.
They serve meals to homeless men and offer emergency shelter for the night.
We went and served Thanksgiving dinner to over 100 men and my children LOVED it!!
They begged to do it again on Christmas Day.
When I called to get our names on the list, he told me they had more than enough volunteers for Christmas Day, but they could really use help on Christmas Eve.
So after opening our own gifts earlier that day, we piled back into our van and headed over to Dallas for an evening of fun and service!!

Because my husband had to work very early on Christmas Day, he stayed home with our two youngest who really are too young for the kind of work we were doing.
Our four oldest really enjoyed the challenge of loading the trays quickly and working in assembly line fashion.
They also got a kick out of the guys who work in the kitchen full-time.
On Thanksgiving, we all served the trays to the men who came in, and the girls helped make sandwiches for their sack lunches the following day.

It's quite sobering seeing the faces of the men as they trudge into the dining area.
Some of them look very frightened (particularly the young ones), some very haggard, and some very distant.  They come there from another organization downtown for an evening of emergency shelter with the caveat that they sit and listen to a presentation of the gospel first.  They are given a choice to respond and receive Christ, but it is not required.  They just must be willing to hear.
They receive a hot, wholesome meal, one of 500 clean beds, an opportunity for a hot shower, breakfast at 6 am, and a sack lunch to take with them when they go back to the other organization at 6:30 am.
I haven't been able to think of a better way for my children to learn to appreciate what they have, feel useful in serving those who need help, and to live out the purpose of Jesus coming to earth in the first place in bringing grace to all mankind.

"For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and you gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Naked, and you clothed me:  I was sick and you visited me:
I was in prison, and you came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying,
'Lord, when did we see you an hungered, and fed you?
or thirsty, and gave you drink?
When did we see you a stranger, and took you in?
or naked, and clothed you?'
And the King shall answer and say unto them,
Verily I say unto you,
In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers,
you have done it unto me."
Matthew 25: 35-40

"What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister is without clothing and is in need of daily food,
and one of you says to them,
'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,'
and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body,
what use is that?
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead."
being by itself.' "
James 2:14-17

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