There’s a man living in our church parking lot . . .
Yup, he showed up a little over a week ago and asked if he could live out of his van at our church. After checking him out with the Sheriff’s Department we said, “sure.” He’s a nice man–came to Sunday School and stayed for the service last week. He’s a traveling preacher looking for a chance to witness and/or preach.
At first, we called him “the homeless man.” But as we talk to him, bring him food, provide him access to life’s little necessities and just generally get to know him I’m beginning to think he isn’t homeless at all.
Jesus sent his twelve disciples out in Matthew 10 with these instructions: “Go to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
Hmmm. Sounds a bit like our new friend. A few folks before us have invited him to shake their dust off his feet.
I can hear some of you know, worrying about this man and the possibility that he’s a danger or a threat. And he could be. We don’t know. But we do know that he came to our church and asked us to help him. Not with money or food or clothing (though we’ve offered that to varying degrees), but with hospitality. Which we have in abundance.
And here’s the funny thing. This quiet man living in our parking lot has made quite a few members of the congregation think. We’re thinking about what we’re doing to help the homeless, the hungry, the needy. We’re thinking about how we’re all needy and how we can sometimes meet our own greatest needs by helping to meet someone else’s. Seems like maybe the parking lot man is giving more than he’s getting.