Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Getting off the Soap Box

Interesting how I was suddenly newly convicted to be the church just yesterday.

Yesterday after a long conversation about what it means to be the church with a friend, I went into the Goodwill store I'm based at. On my way out, I was stopped by a woman who asked me if I could provide her food and shelter for the night. Immediately, I was both clamoring for excuses as to why I shouldn't let a homeless person stay with me, while also feeling the heavy burden of actually living out what I'm on the soapbox telling everyone else to do.

I'll be honest: at first I tried to dissuade her by telling her I live about 40 minutes away and nowhere near any sort of train station. She asked where I lived. I gave a cryptic answer. Then she asked for a ride to the train station. I said I'd take her where she needed to go. While she was getting her belongings from the laundromat, I give Jonathan a quick call to let him know that I was giving her a ride and might be inviting her to stay the night. My husband ROCKS and was like, "okay, sure!" (Also, thanks to my mom's teaching about strangers, I wanted to let him know what happened to me if I didn't come home that day. Did anyone hear about what happened on that Greyhound bus in Canada last week?)

Anyway, she got in the car and we started talking. Sarita is a 29 year old originally from Jamaica and in her last semester of graduate school. She shared some sad parts of her life with me, but mostly spoke about how God healed her and has delivered her. She quoted more scripture than most people hear at church. When I dropped her off, I told her I'd pick her up after a class that evening.

When I got home, I weighed the options of having someone in the house with us. Is it safe? Does safety even matter? Isn't it being the church just as much if I connect her with a homeless shelter and give her some money? There were some odd parts of her story that didn't add up, but after consulting some people, I decided we'd let her stay for the night.

So, last night a couple of friends and I picked her up and brought her to the coffee shop until Jonathan got off work. We brought her to our apartment and gave her a room and a towel for a shower, told her to help herself to all of the vegetarian food she wanted, and went to sleep.

Though it wasn't my best night of sleep due to a somewhat overactive imagination, everything worked out fine and I dropped her off at school again this morning. I offered our apartment to her for the rest of the week and she said she'd call me if she needed a place to stay again. And that was that.

It wasn't nearly as difficult or scary as I imagined it would be. It was pretty easy actually. God gives us the grace for what we need. I'm glad we had her into our house rather than dropping her off somewhere else, even though that would have been good as well. Who knows what what being the church will bring tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

This is your mother speaking. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???!!! That is all I have to say.

Lesli said...

That's awesome. Good for you!

And...I forgot about the vegetarian thing...we can make it work I am sure when you come! :) (just kidding...of course we can)

heather :) said...

WOW - IS THAT HUMBLING?!?! Thank YOU for sharing this post! And what a gift to that woman! In almost any other country, such hospitality is considered normal and expected...but we live by fear of the "worst." Praise God for the way He used you in this woman's life!!