Pastor Sean Warren, Redemption Church Gilbert
Recently Arizona Multi-Faith Neighbors Network opened a “Cooling Center” for the homeless in our community who are vulnerable and who suffer because of the blistering Arizona heat. Our local government and the Salvation Army asked us to consider partnering with them. We took up their challenge and this unique opportunity has already been more formative than I could have imagined. Although I spent nearly 5 years previously working at the Nashville Rescue Mission, the lessons of this week are fresh and new to me.
List to just a few of the things some of our guests had to say.
“I just think I’m going to die with a beer in my hand.”
“I started drinking when I was 7 years old.”
“It gets pretty lonely out here.”
“I’m afraid to go to detox.”
“I haven’t talked to my dad in 30 years.”
“(crying in prayer) God please help me.”
“I was jumped and they broke both sides of my jaw.”
“Where could me and my son find a place to sleep tonight?”
“I’ve had 3 wives, 12 kids, and I haven’t talked to anyone in 8 years.”
“You don’t want to hug me, I’m dirty.”
With each sentence I wrote above, I can see a face. And each face has a story. What I recognize in myself is a damnable thing. I am quick to judge. With a glance I can often act as if I am all-knowing, like God, knowing the person and their motivations, determining outcomes before it even happens.
Pride is such an awful thing. It is sneaky. Another human being stands in front of me in need of something, and I have to decide, “Do I withhold it? Do I say come back another day? Do I deem you unworthy of my time or resources?” Or worse still, thinking to myself though I would never say it out loud, “You are someone else’s responsibility, not mine.”
The last few weeks have made me think, “What does my faith look like?” If my faith isn’t walking with the least, the last, and the lost? I can attend my congregation every week; I can know doctrine. I can recite creeds. I can have the correct books on my shelves, listen to the best podcasts, and be an orator of truth, but if I am not walking with, and loving, vulnerable and the marginalized, what good is my faith?
I have had to re-evaluate the faith I claim to believe. And I have to remind myself, as a member of the Christian faith, it was the rich people who had to move through the poor to get to Jesus, because the poor were always with Jesus. Jesus met needs. He healed the hurting. Ultimately, He saw the poor and broken. He saw them, and they felt seen by him. I believe that when he looked over Jerusalem and wept, it was for the brokenness and despair of the people of the city. I need to weep more over my city and its brokenness.
On this issue, all of our faiths can relate whether we are Jewish, Muslim or Christian. We all stem from the Abrahamic tradition and have the same calling to move towards the poor; to care for them. To see them.
Join me and let’s re-evaluate together for the sake of those on the margins in our cities.CONNECT WITH US TO HELP