Today's post was written by Carol Brown who is married to Bill and who leads a Wednesday Women's Small Group at Brook Hills.

“Do you want to share it?” It was a simple peanut butter sandwich, but it might as well been a hundred dollar bill. At least to Tommy and Matt, it was that valuable. How many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have I eaten, and how much worth have I ever placed on one sandwich?

My small group was privileged to be able to serve the homeless on Southside yesterday. We served out of the Highland United Methodist fellowship hall. The church is located in the heart of Southside.

Each day, homeless men and women come to Highlands to be served a meal by Christians throughout Birmingham. Believe me the blessing is spread out, sprinkled and poured on the person who is serving. Funny how God has it worked out that way. Although you may never see the people you serve again, you carry the blessing with you for years to come. I know I will not easily forget what happened yesterday.

Our small group provided food for and served approximately 150 men and women (mostly men) who live on the streets of Birmingham.

Everyday driving or walking through Birmingham, Alabama, you will see the homeless. Some mentally challenged from substance abuse, some drunk, some just making a wage begging. Many people on the street are no different from us; they just find themselves in circumstances beyond their control. Some may be very smart or brilliant, but circumstances have landed them on the street with no place to lay their heads. We might think of them as a puzzle piece that has gone awry. It’s a feeling you have when you think someone is just in the wrong place. No one is on the street because they want to be there; they are there because something has gone wrong in their life.

Today God provided a way for us to minister to those lost puzzle pieces.

First, there was Mike who loved coffee. While we stood behind the table serving sugar and creamer, Mike visited our cart at least 7 times, maybe more. I have never seen a man who loves coffee like Mike loves coffee. Finally, I thought, “God do you want someone to talk to Mike; God is it me?” Why else would He have a man drink 7 cups of coffee in one sitting? Duh, Carol, get the message. So, as Mike came for what would be his last cup for the day, I stepped out from behind the cart and spoke with him about Jesus. Mike is well aware of who Jesus is but has never moved the information from his head to his heart. We talked. He didn’t make a decision today (that I know of), but he had the gospel presented to him and just maybe it will take root. Maybe on that rainy night when there is nothing to do but sit and think, Mike will remember what Jesus did for him, and his heart will be changed…. just maybe.

Much was taking place in a room full of hungry people. I saw several of our women mingling between the tables talking with the people, some pouring coffee along with a kind word. Others were serving food with their smiles and words of kindness for the lonely and downtrodden. Some of the people being served stopped to give thanks at the tables. Every person seemed so appreciative of all that was being done for them and expressed it verbally. It warmed my heart to think of how God put this all together and to see it played out in just the way He planned.

“Do you want to share it?” The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that is… do you want to share it?

Tommy and Matt sat at a table, just the two of them. Maybe they were friends, maybe not. As I approached the table, they were very polite and said it would be fine for me to sit. After exchanging the normal greetings one exchanges, I ask them about what the rest of their day might hold. Tommy said, “Mainly just looking for the next place that might serve a meal, or if it rains how to stay dry. We might look for shelter for the evening. Nothing much else.” As we talked, they volunteered the information that got them where they are today. I listened.

Matt told me that he knew Jesus. He said, “Last March my mom died and that’s when I gave it all to Jesus. I just couldn’t go on anymore like things were. I had lost everyone by the time mom died - my sister, my little boy, and then my mom.” Then he said, “I know God has a plan for me, and I pray about that plan each day. I am not afraid of dying; I know I will go to a much better place than this rotten place. If I die tonight, I’m fine with it.” Well, to say the least, I was blessed to the point of wanting to shout.

In a situation like Matt is living in, he is confident in his Lord. God is all sufficient for him, and he praises Him in the midst of tragedy and heartache. How much we can learn from Matt. Matt ministered to me.

Meanwhile, Tommy has tears in his eyes. He speaks up and says, “I’m trying. I don’t have it all fixed yet, but I am trying.” We talked about how we will never have it all together, that we are not capable of doing it on our own. I reminded him of how much God loves him. He talked about the heartache he had faced in his life. He began to cry and said, “My sister committed suicide two months ago, and I cry every day about it.” Matt says, “Oh man I’m so sorry.” We talked for a few minutes about the pain of losing someone you love. Matt had much to offer Tommy.

Then out of the blue Tommy makes a statement, “I wish people weren’t so judgmental. They always judge you instead of listening to you.” He said whenever you approach someone, and they realize you are homeless, they order you to leave and get away. He said, “Sometimes I just want to talk to them, like any other person.”

Then Tommy pointed to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in between the two of them. Tommy says, “Hey dude, is this your sandwich?” Matt replied, “No man, I thought it was yours.” Then Matt says something that touched my heart, “Do you want to split it?” And Tommy said, “Yes.” Matt took the sandwich, tore it in half, and handed half to Tommy.

A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich shared between friends.

Being judgmental has a way of stifling people, making them unwilling to talk. People are much more open and willing to discuss some of the most difficult places they have been in life, maybe even places where they have failed, if we would not be judgmental.

Tommy and Matt said their goodbyes and asked if we would come back very soon. You bet we will…and I hope to see both these boys again. Tommy’s salvation is still in question, but I have a feeling that if he hangs with Matt, God’s going to do something.

What a humbling morning it was. I will never eat another peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I do not think of Tommy and Matt.

May God Get the Glory.
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