Sunday at Virginia-Highland Church we launched The River, an innovative ministry that will provide support networks for the homeless. This week, I am sharing some thoughts from those who created the program, why they care about this and why they think you should, too. Today, steering committee member Jean Miller shares how she came to care about homelessness.
I must confess that homelessness was not on my radar until I moved to midtown Atlanta. I lived in an apartment and took twice daily walks with my dog in the neighborhood around Peachtree and 5th Streets. During those walks, I encountered many people asking for help. I worked downtown at Georgia State University during that time, and I was astounded by the number of presumably homeless people I encountered there as well.
Also during this time, I was a member of a church that had a weekly Saturday morning breakfast club for homeless people in the neighborhood. I was troubled by the number of people I was seeing who were obviously suffering and hungry, so I started volunteering on the fourth Saturday of every month. For the first few months, I stayed in the kitchen. I was still uncertain how to talk to these people, so I chose tasks that kept me in my comfort zone.
As time passed, I began to see these hungry people as individual humans with names and stories. I came out of the kitchen and started getting to know them, one by one. They became friends. One of these dear folks, Elijah, was on the bus that I was taking to go home after I’d gotten the phone call that my father had died suddenly. He is the first person with whom I shared the devastating news. I will never forget that connection.
This is why I am grateful to be part of a congregation that is willing to really get involved, to literally be Christ’s hands and feet in the world.The River is a tremendous opportunity, and I look forward to its many, many blessings. And there will be blessings, I promise.