Becoming missional for me has required changing how I think. I am so aware that I've been willing to overlook needs around me. For many years, I could easily have been the person who hurried past a person needing help on my way to a church meeting.
Our small town doesn't have an obvious population of poor people. In fact, it is more of an upscale community. I realize that being missional can and should include suburbia.
However, I have also been convicted by how out of touch I am with the truly needy in our town. We don't have soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Seeing transient-looking people is actually very rare.
I am trying to learn to see all of the people around me. Sometimes I don't feel very good at it, but I'm willing to keep stumbling along.
A while back, my husband and I were returning to town after eating at the Chinese restaurant in a nearby town. At our exit near the stop sign, there was a man holding a sign.
His sign said:
HUNGRY, NEED FOOD
("God, give me a sign, show me what I should do.")
The lightbulb came on, and I glanced around the car, wondering if we had any food. All we had was our leftover box from the chinese dinner, and I didn't think used food was an acceptable offering.
We decided a quick run through a drive-through would be a good option. This seemed simple. Get food, drive by, hand off food.
While we were waiting for our meal in the drive-through, a thunderstorm suddenly gathered overhead. It began sprinkling, then raining. By the time we left, there was small hail mixed with heavy rain.
We wondered what the chances of finding "our guy" again would be.
We guessed that he might have taken shelter at a nearby gas station. Driving by, we didn't see him, so we concluded that maybe he went under the overpass.
After trying to park out of the way at the intersection, my husband ventured to the bridge, meal in hand.
As I watched from the car, a police car came on the scene, and the officer also stepped out into the rain.
A little detail you need to know, so you can visualize this, my husband's knee catches sometimes, and he was having trouble with it that night.
I was waiting a little nervously for him to come back from under the bridge and wondering what the policeman was going to do.
Finally I see my husband, attempting to run, but more hopping/limping quickly towards our car. He yelled a few things at the policeman through the rain, and ducked back into the car.
Well, what happened?
He said the guy was under there, but he was yelling. Hubby thought maybe he was on a cell phone. (Yeah, I'm wondering what phone plan most homeless people sign up on.)
As he approached him with the food, the guy said, "What the #*// is that?"
Logical guy that he is, my husband said, "Well, it's food, like your sign said."
Then he left the food, and tried to run.
He cautioned the policeman that the guy under the bridge was upset. I wondered about what would happen with the guy. Would the policeman give him more help?
We left, somewhat relieved that my husband was neither attacked nor arrested, concluding, "We're not very good at this."
Anyway, the whole thing turned out kind of stoogish, but at least we tried.