For the past six years I have worked with the Salvation Army. I have seen a lot over these 6 years, not all of it pretty. I’ve learned a lot as well.
One thing I have learned is to listen for the story.
There is a cynicism that has crept into our society where we act like everyone on the street is a substance abuser, makes the wrong choices and “has an excuse (story)” for their actions. I have learned how far from the truth that really is.
It’s true, some of the “street” people abuse substances and make other poor choices, but many have suffered sickness, got behind on a bill or were laid off when the company downsized due to a poor economy. Lest we forget though, ALL were created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)
“Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.” Proverbs 22:2
When we walk down the street and see those in need, do we see God’s image in the person we try to ignore? Do we see the image of God in the poor, the needy, and yes, even the substance abuser?
How often do we think about the soul of the man or woman on the street?
I will say this, God thinks of them DAILY! (Psalm 139)
He loved them enough to send His Son for them. (John 3:16)
Can we not stop and hear their story?
I mentioned that I have learned to listen to the story. It isn’t always easy but with practice, we can look beyond the symptoms and listen to what is going on in the heart of the down-and-out person. A cup of coffee with a stranger may place us outside of our comfort zone for a moment, but it can change a life forever.
These are my neighbors. This is my mission field.
Will you listen to someone’s story this week?