The news spread so quickly. The grills were lit. Bags of ice unleashed surrounding the mounds of bottled water. Tents were erected and tables lined up for the food that had been lovingly prepared. The stage was built and the portable sound system was patiently waiting for the music that would soon be broadcasted for many blocks around. There wasn’t a sign announcing free food. It was not needed. Soon the aroma of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs was floating up and down the streets adjacent to the shelter. This coupled with the music pounding from the speakers began to draw all of those without a home to us.
Over 200 hundred people began to line up and take a plate. The heat was not nearly as noticeable now that the smell of food had overtaken their senses. As the music filled the air and the food gathered on their plate smiles began to replace the blank stare that had just moments before occupied their face.
My heart became heavier by the moment. How could so many hurting people be so close to us yet so far away? It was as I place sliced tomatoes onto their plates that the first person looked directly into my eyes and said ever so quietly, “Thank you so much for doing this.” As my eyes connected with theirs I was startled by what I saw. Their eyes held so many stories. I kept telling my mind to quit thinking of what those stories could be, but I was unsuccessful. My heart tore a little with each glance into their eyes.
The block party was now in full swing. With their hunger pangs taken care of, the music began to entertain them and draw them all close to the stage preparing their hearts for the short message that was given offering them the best treat of the night, Jesus.
Lives were forever changed; however, it was not just the hearts of those without a home, but mine as well. It wasn’t their clothes or their lack of clothes that stayed with me. It was their eyes and what they spoke to me that stayed with me.
How often are we so consumed with our daily “to-dos” that we miss those that are so very close by? They will forever be with us. Their eyes speak volumes. Are we listening?
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.