Every day hundreds and perhaps thousands of people come to churches across Canada looking for some kind of assistance and every day these churches hand out food, bus tickets, clothing and sometimes even cash to ease the hardship of these people. We do this with a mixture of emotions ranging from contempt and pity to compassion and love.
Sometimes in the process of engaging these people we sit down and talk with them. Often it’s simply to allow them to weave a request perfected by many visits to many churches. At other times, their conversation goes beyond their physical need and ventures into their emotional and spiritual needs.
Jesus spent most of his ministry on the streets, walking among the very people who occasionally come to our doors. By walking among them Jesus was able to reach through their physical need and into their spiritual need to offer them the gift of life.
A number of years ago there was a seminary which made available a spring session that involved living on the streets for three days. Students were given $5 and sent out. The lives of these students were not the same when they came back.
What if our churches began to offer opportunities for people to live on the streets of our neighbourhoods and cities? What if we sent them out in pairs to walk with those who struggle with physical needs and addictions, but who also have spiritual and emotional needs? What if these people went out, not to fix problems, but to walk with Jesus among the same people he walked with and to discover that in the midst of these people Christ can transform both us and the people we meet.
I wonder if by doing this our church communities would become places where people in need would not only come for physical help, but also come to worship and learn and fellowship with us. I wonder…