Growing with UGs
2015 was a year full of blessings, and many of those blessings came through my UG. Each week, we’d come together to share how we had seen God and the challenges we faced as Christians working in the city.
On Tuesday, November 24th, we closed our UG with a prayer asking God to bring us forward from watching from the sidelines to fighting at the frontlines by actively helping those in need. The very next morning, God answered our prayer in the form of an elderly homeless man.
Normally, I wouldn’t look back or think twice when passing by a homeless person in the city, but that morning was different. As I walked down the escalator, I saw him sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of high pedestrian traffic. I had never seen this person before, nor have I seen him since, but I doubt I’ll ever forget him. For the first time in years, I felt convicted to help someone who wasn’t a friend or family member.
That evening, I googled tips on what homeless people need most and gathered the items one by one. While my original plan was to make these care packages at home and distribute them on my own, I began to think how great it would be to share this experience with my fellow Uggies. One thing led to another, and we eventually agreed to make it happen on December 8th.
We made 21 care packages in record speed, split into groups of three to distribute our goodie bags, and came back to debrief and pray for those we met that evening. Even though our trio hadn’t spoken about Jesus, nor did we pray with those we shared our care packages with, we celebrated the fact that we were listening to His call and actively taking steps towards building His kingdom.
Imagine going to a party and leaving with your hands full of presents, trophies and a free vacation. Aside from being overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness, you might also think, “What do I do with all the blessings I’ve just received”? That is the exact question I found myself asking as I left my first ever metro UG meeting back in October. While I was amazed at the outpouring of love and kindness from everyone who welcomed me, I couldn’t help but remember Jesus’s promise in scripture that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. If this is true, how much more could we all experience God’s love and presence if we shifted our focus from blessing just our own community, to blessing those outside it?
When a fellow UG member—Sam, mentioned her idea to pack and distribute care packages to the homeless just outside our doors, I knew this would be a great chance to minister to the least, the last and the lost around us. I was nervous, of course, but excited to be obedient and to experience God in a new way.
As we put together the care packages, I felt challenged to not just minister to peoples’ physical needs, but to their spiritual needs as well. I shared my convictions with the group and challenged them to not simply hand out the bags and walk away with a smile, but to instead take a few moments and engage in conversation with those they met.
The highlight of my experience was chatting with a man named Jesse and praying with him. There was so little we could offer him in terms of relieving his poverty and his regrets, but we prayed with all of our hearts for blessings and new beginnings in his life. As we left, I was so grateful for our encounter, yet saddened as well. I knew I would go home to my warm bed, family and career, while Jesse would probably return to the same routine of sitting on the streets and struggling to hope for something more in his life.
Scripture reminds us that we are God’s “Plan A” in bringing hope and healing to this broken world. God has not forgotten about his beloved children sitting hungry on the streets. Rather, he is waiting for us to say YES in partnering with him—to go out of our way to bless and invite others to know him better, especially those who are most in need.
Will you embrace an opportunity this week to experience more of God’s presence by saying yes to being a blessing to someone outside of your comfort zone?