Once again....not on my list of things to blog about but I had such a moving experience this morning, I had to process it with you, my readers. Since Glenn and I have taken over the Middle School class, I've started to sit with the kids during Praise and Worship on Sunday mornings. I usually repeat the phrase, "Turn around and put your behind in the chair" more than anything. Many of the kids have a place to call "home," but some do not. Some live on the streets or in cars, with relatives, or in shelters. Most of them come dressed in nice or at the very least clean clothes, but today, God put a precious little man in my path. For privacy purposes, we'll call him, "Sam."
I was sitting in the middle of the front row of chairs when I looked to my right and on the very end of the row was a child sitting by himself. He had a jacket on, and it was zipped all the way up covering half of his face with his head down, avoiding looking at anyone. His clothes were almost filthy. His jeans had dirt all down the front. His shoes were worn and covered in dirt. I wondered when the last time he had a bath might have been. I scooted to the end of the row and said,
"Hi, I'm Morgan. What's your name?" (and stuck out my hand).
"Sam." (and he shook it).
"Well, it's nice to meet you Sam. Would you like to come sit in the middle so you can see better?"
(He shook his head and walked over and sat right next to me even though there were several chairs to choose from.)
"How old are you, Sam?"
"Did you come with anyone this morning?"
"No, I came by myself. My older brother usually comes but he isn't here today."
"Oh, So the Rescue Atlanta Kids bus picked you up?"
(He shook his head, yes).
We talked some more and I found out that he likes football and sports,and is in the 2nd grade.
He eventually removed the hood of his jacket to reveal cute little braids, beautiful eye lashes, and an adorable smile. Then unzipped his jacket revealing yet another dirt stained shirt. He was the most adorable, precious little boy. My heart was gripped....
As praise and worship started...He clapped along and eventually started singing the words to Heart of Worship and This is My Desire.....I couldn't sit there and watch him and not DO something. I scooted out the door and ran down to the clothing closet. I grabbed him a long sleeve thermal shirt. When I came back into the sanctuary I said, "Would you like a long sleeve shirt for when its cold?" He looked up with big eyes and shook his head rapidly and I handed it to him. Another minute passed by and I whispered in his ear.."Do you know what size pants and shoes you wear?" He told me a size 10 pants and a size 4.5 shoes. I ran back to the clothing closet and searched through everything and I couldn't really find what I was looking for but grabbed what I could along with a pair of shoes probably a size too big, but it was all I could find in a matter of minutes. I put them in a bag and ran back to the Sanctuary. I handed them to "Sam" and whispered in his ear again. "I think these shoes are gonna be too big, but keep them because you'll be able to wear them soon. Next time you are here I will have a pair of shoes for you that fit."
I sat there with my arm around him and attempted to sing through tears..."This is my desire, to honor You, Lord with all my heart, I worship You. All I have within me, I give You praise, all that I adore is in You. Lord I give You my heart, I give You my soul, I live for You alone, Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake, Lord have Your way in me." I looked over and the little boy was singing with words with the his hands out, palms upward."
As if that wasn't enough...he started watching the lady next to us who was "Praise Signing" and he started to mimic all of her movements. If I had not had the responsibility of teaching 12 teenagers within minutes...I probably would have completely lost it. If I had the money, I'd be at Target right now buying this kid a new outfit and pair of shoes. Actually, I promised him a pair of shoes next time I see him, so I'm trusting God will provide the means to do so. I told Glenn if it wasn't against the law, I'd bring him home.
The first thing Glenn said when we talked after the service is..."Who let's an 8 year old go anywhere alone?"
There are many answers to that question, but what I kept thinking was..."What 8 year old, gets on a bus by himself to go to church across town?"
I read a statistic recently that everyday 13,000 people in Atlanta wake up without a place to call home. 2,500 of those are children. CHILDREN.
While I know a main part of my job is fundraising, grant writing, networking, volunteers, etc.......I have a huge passion for the youth and children that come to Rescue Atlanta. Some are choosing, on their own, to come. I pray that we are a safe haven, shelter, and a place where they get the physical items they need, but also all the hugs and love they can stand before they walk out into a very cold, and broken world. We are truly honored to be in this position.
Atlanta is not the only place with this issue. No matter where you are....this is happening on some level. The face of homelessness has changed over the years (I'll blog about that another time). But there is ALWAYS a need. I'm also going to blog soon about how to engage and converse with the homeless (as many people are intimidated or assume much) and also practical ways how you can help the homeless no matter where you are.
Glenn and I have decided that for our class, we are going to do Birthday Blessings. Some kids are in situations where they may not get a birthday party more less a gift. I've collected all their information including their favorite candy and the week of their birthday. The Sunday closest to their birthday, I'll bake them a cake and we are going to give them birthday blessing bags. Each bag will cost a total of $10 and will include a bible and their favorite candy. If you are looking for a practical way to help a child and would like to sponsor one of our birthday blessings. Please let me know. We have one coming up next Sunday. It's just a little way to make it extra special. If we get enough sponsors, we can extend this to all ages of youth.
Pray for Sam tonight....God knows his real name.....I don't know his situation. He may have a home or he may be homeless. Based on today, I would think it wasn't a permanent situation or at least one with little supervision. Please pray that he will be surrounded with protection, peace, warmth and the love of The Father. Also pray that he comes back so I can bless him with a better outfit and shoes that fit. And pray for us, as leaders. That we will be a physical, tangible extension of the arms, hands, feet, and heart of Christ. That we would have the knowledge and discernment to best serve those in need.
For His Renown,