Monday, November 25, 2013

I was a stranger and you welcomed me

In 1982 I agreed to coordinate a night shelter at Trinity UMC near the State Capital. I had been volunteering at the nearby shelter at Central Presbyterian. As that shelter became dangerously overcrowded, the need for additional space became apparent. Trinity’s shelter operated during the cold months of February and March that year, and I was often scrambling for volunteers. If you had told me then that thirty-one years later, the problem of homelessness would be even worse, I would not have believed it. Those of us who were coordinating church shelters in 1982 thought that we would be able to solve the problem of homelessness by opening a few shelters.

Over these 31 years, I have accepted that God has called me to connect the church to those we would call “the least of these” according to the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. When Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” I see this as an opportunity to see the face of Jesus in the faces of those we serve. If Jesus comes as a homeless person, sometimes Jesus has had a bad day! He may come to us as one who is ragged, smelly, or delusional. When I accept these encounters as a way to experience Jesus, I look for what he wants to teach me through these meetings. An encounter with Jesus challenges me to question my assumptions, to put my faith into action, and to work to bring about change to policies and systems that cause people to fall into homelessness.

As Director of the Housing and Homeless Council, I have had the opportunity to see people all over the North Georgia Conference who are putting their faith into practice by serving people in need in their communities. When churches contribute to the Homeless Offering, the funds are distributed as grants to ministries all over the Conference. Members of the Housing and Homeless Council make site visits to the applicants, and we come back and report on all the good work that is going on as we seek to serve Christ in the person of the homeless and hungry.

--Rev. Virginia Tinsley, director of the NGa Conf. Housing and Homeless Council.

God Is Still In Control! 

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

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