Reaching the Unreachable through Christ
Posted by Kelly Wallace on 03/04/2015
About a year ago, I started tagging along with Danny, Don, and Rex to the Firehouse shelter. I was humbled by the opportunity to serve with these passionate Christ Church men, who care deeply about the hurting in our community. I was, to say the least, really, really nervous the first time I joined them downtown. Afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to offer, that I wouldn’t have anything to say, and afraid of being a woman at a men’s shelter. But I prayed for help before leaving my car that first night, and every night since:
“God, I know it’s really not about me… so help me see You move.”
Even though my eyes only see dimly at best, He has always answered that prayer and never ceases to amaze, astonish, and humble me when glimpsing Him at work.
When people are at the end of their rope --- it is holy ground. When people are in touch with and bring to light their pain and addictions --- it is holy ground. When people cry out for help, and begin the journey to enter their pain and find God there --- it is holy ground. When dignity is shared and compassion is offered --- it is holy ground.
Not all at the shelter are able to examine their life’s choices and purpose yet, but those that do . . . WOW! Not all at the shelter are willing to acknowledge the One who meets them in the desert and the valley of the shadow of death. Even though we ALL see dimly, it does not deplete the fact that God is indeed waiting to meet us in the very darkness we fear. It is a deep honor to witness even a small flicker of a glimpse of God on the move in their lives and in our midst.
Last week, there was a man named Rick who I’ve seen at the shelter for some time but never had an opportunity to talk to. Rick looks like he is in his late 50’s but might be in his early 40’s. He has been ill, very ill, and has been going downhill fast over these last few weeks. He told Danny and me that he had brain surgery, but an infection is also attacking and rotting his body. He is living on the streets after having brain surgery; he is hardly able to walk steadily so he uses a walker; he keeps hydrated with a soiled water bottle that carries its own smell of decay . . . On this particular night, he was wrapped in a blanket and looked feverish. I asked him if I could get him some water. “Okay,” he replied. I went to get him a fresh cup of cool water and a prayer card. When I returned, I asked, “Is there any way we can pray for you Rick?” “Not really,” he replied. Then Danny came over and started offering Rick his friendship. Danny said to him, “We can’t promise, but if you let us know what you might need, we want to try to help make your life more comfortable right now.”
Now you must understand that Danny is a kind and generous man from Christ Church, who has been the Firehouse Shelter for years. It is truly humbling to watch him care for the men at the Firehouse shelter, who so respect him and experience Christ’s love through him.
“I’m alright. I don’t need anything,” was Rick’s reply. Rick then suddenly opened up about his physical pain and what brought him to Birmingham; extending to us a rare beautiful glimpse into the ‘who’ of Rick and his story. Danny asked, “Can we pray for you now, Rick?” And with laying on of hands for this man named Rick – beloved one by Christ – the Holy kissed humanity. What I have come to value about Christ Church via Danny, Don, and Rex is a reminder that the church building is not the Church Body. It is simply a nice place for us to gather. Once we can be freed of four walls, we the Church can be in motion; in search of and on the journey to find an answer to the question, “Where is God moving now and how can we join Him there?” Especially when He invites us to the end of ‘I CAN’ or ‘I CAN’T’ . . . to places, people, and experiences where we are afraid and must trust the God who meets us there.
~Written By: Audrey Moore