Several Sundays ago I overheard Tony telling Fred and Al about a pastor who had caught a vision. It was so good, I wanted to pass it along to everyone else. By the way, this Tony is called Grits Tony because he brings grits to the street every Sunday morning. Fred is one of the coordinators for the street feedings, and Al is a regular volunteer. Just so you know.
About a month ago, a pastor at a well-to-do church in Marietta brought about 15 men with him to visit a ministry called 7 Bridges. This ministry houses women and their children in one building and men in another. They coordinate feedings at certain areas throughout Atlanta where the homeless congregate, as well. The pastor at this ministry (everyone knows him as Pastor 7) invited them to go along on a feeding. A bit hesitantly they agreed to go.
He took them into some of the toughest sections of town. Remember, these are men who are mostly upper middle class. As they helped feed they saw drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, addicts, homeless, and basic poverty. I thought it was interesting that for once, rather than being godly in their safe environment, they showed the world God by being where they were truly needed. I wish I was more like that. Anyhow, they came back, and, in Tony’s words, the pastor was “messed up.”
Apparently this experience was revolutionary for him. The following day when he stood up to preach, he told his congregation that he really didn’t know what to tell them. He then told about his and the other men’s involvement on the street. He talked about what they had seen. Then he said, “I left there thinking of all that we have. We have a large gym that is unused a large percentage of the time. We have material blessings. I don’t know if any of you are interested in helping, but I have chosen to do something about what I saw. If anyone is willing to help, come meet me after the service.”
Everyone came. Every last one.
I’m not normally excitable, but I’ll be honest, I was jumping when I heard that. That spoke further into my heart than anything I can think of recently.
According to Tony, they cleaned up the gym and put beds in it. He said all the Targets in the area were out of blankets, sheets, etc., because these people bought them all. They then went out and brought in the homeless. The first night they had 36. The next night they had 64. The following night they had over 100. It has been over 100 since.
I love how this speaks of true community. Those who have work together to give to those who don’t have. This seems to me to be what God had in mind for us, His people. I wonder if this is closer to the early church than how I have lived my Christianity for most of my life.
One last thing. At the end of the story, Fred said, “They (referring to the church) were just waiting for someone to lead them.” Isn’t that true? If we would be willing to act when God calls, I wonder who all would join us.