{the least of these}

When these words are spoken to you as  you stand before the throne, what will you be able to say you have done "for the least of these"? 

I grew up in your very typical Mid-Western middle class household.  Dad worked a full-time job at the shipyard in town, mom worked part time when we were young going full time as we got into high school through her retirement. Thanks to my hard-working parents, I never knew what it was to truly "want" for much of anything {although I'm sure there were times I thought I did!} much less ever go without my basic needs being met. I was taught to shop the sales racks, and we didn't drive outrageously expensive cars or live in an extravagant home, but we did have "nice stuff" {I now live in the house I grew up in and still love it!}. My childhood was blessed more than I ever knew!

To me, a homeless person was someone who lived in a cardboard box in the middle of an alley in a big city, far away {at least as far as Chicago}.  In my mind, said homeless person slept on the sidewalk, smelled really bad, spent any money that was given to them on drugs and alcohol and should have done SOMETHING to relieve themselves of their plight. I do not believe I was raised to be a bigot, I was raised in a Christian home where the love of Christ was freely shared and taught. I trusted Christ as my Savior at a young age, and lived a fairly easy life in the eyes of a watching world. My upbringing was sheltered, and thus, I was sheltered from the reality of much of the world outside of my own little "bubble". Imagine my surprise then, when I learned that my image of the homeless was truly tainted by movies and books, and my preconceived notions! I never realized that a homeless person could look and smell and act and believe just the same as me. Goodness, I never KNEW a homeless person, or did I?  I wonder now, how many homeless people I actually came into contact but had no idea.

I share this because of a couple things. The first is that I do believe that we, as Christians are called to serve and help "the least of these".  Another reason I share is because a few years ago, I was at the Veteran's Day Assembly at the High School and one of the speakers was sharing how they had seen homeless on the streets in a big city they had visited and how glad they were that we "didn't have homeless here" {yes, this statement was made in a public gathering by a well educated, respected community member in the current day and age}. This truly made me open my eyes. It opened my eyes to the fact that we DO have homeless here, they are in need of help, and that many truly do not know the plight of the homeless and the needy, right here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I share because I know how many Thanksgiving meals were delivered, Christmas gifts presented and backpacks given to families in need in our area by Project Give from Stephenson {Shelby, Deidra & Phillippo Insurance - you guys ROCK}! I also share because recently Rick and I have visited the Abundant Life Mission in Menominee, MI. We have had a chance to speak with and get to know Pastor David Pennell and some of his staff. We attended a board meeting held by the mission where we heard some of the hurdles and hoops they are jumping over and through to open a new, larger facility {their current facility can house just over 20 residents and is at capacity and has to turn people away}. I share this because I have had my eyes truly opened to the fact that there are many of "the least of these" right here in my own backyard, and I have been blind to their needs for far too long! I share because I now know that I have done very little to help the least of these during my lifetime. I share because though I truly have a heart for world missions {both of the older girls have been on missions trips to areas of the world where the gospel has not been widely spread or accepted or taught}, I am realizing how much of a mission field really exists right here, in my own backyard!

There are homeless people right here, in my little "village", in my township, my county and throughout the U.P. and Northeast Wisconsin {right in my little "corner" of the world}.

A large employer in our area just laid off many of its employees, how many of them will become homeless when their unemployment checks run out?

HOMELESSNESS is not a respecter of age, race, educational level or gender.
You can be married, single, with children or without, anyone at any moment could become homeless. It could be the result of job loss {as mentioned above}, a house fire, a death or a divorce, or many other variables.

HOMELESSNESS is not a disease that you can catch, nor is the homeless person contagious, an alcoholic, a drug addict or someone to fear {most of the time}.
Think of the last person you stood next to at the grocery store, Walmart, McDonalds or the Post Office .... they could have been the homeless we speak of.

How will you serve God by serving them?
We each have our own calling. While you may not be called to physically serve, you can still pray. You can still donate. You can support Project Give in their efforts to ease the burden of families in our area through their fund-raising events and community projects. You can support the local homeless shelter in their efforts to have their new facility ready so that they may house more residents before the cold weather is upon us. You can donate goods, time or money as God leads you. If nothing else, you can become aware! Become aware that there is a need, right here, right now. Be aware that you never know what is going on in the lives of people you meet every.single.day.

HOMELESSNESS does not have to equal HELPLESSNESS.
There are people and organizations who locally are helping our areas most needy, won't you join with one of them?

Project Give just completed their "Give Back{packs}" Drive where they partnered with the Rainbow House and other organizations to donate backpacks to area students in need! 

From Project Give's Facebook page:

"We challenged you to donate 50 backpacks for our Give Back(pack) Campaign for the Rainbow House. A month later we have almost 200 bags and school supplies to go in them! A huge [THANK YOU] to everyone who donated and to Ryan and Sara Mireau for matching everything you brought to Main Street Electric Tattoo Co."

Next week, the Abundant Life Church & Mission will hold a food distribution.  Last time one was held, food was given to 250 needy families in our area. Let that sink in .... 250 needy families IN OUR AREA!! We live in an amazing community! We're honored to say that we know Shelby and Deidra who orchestrate Project Give in Stephenson, we're honored to say that we know Pastor David Pennell and some of the staff and volunteers at the Abundant Life Church & Mission!  We live in a GREAT community, and we serve an even GREATER God! :) 

From Abundant Life Mission's Facebook page:
"Abundant Life Church & Mission in cooperation with Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank is distributing 15,000 pounds of food to those in need. This distribution is available to those residents of Menominee County and Marinette County.
If you are in need, join us on September 17th 2015 at our location at 1406 10th Avenue from 10am until 2pm (Or whenever the food runs out).
Any Questions, please call Joshua at 906-424-4429."
Won't you pray about how you can "do unto the least of these" therefore, doing as unto Christ?!

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some days, life is easy, the sun is shining and all seems right with the world. other days, it seems the sun will never shine again...