A Mile In My Shoes
Jerry is an occasional guest on Sunday mornings with our church family. According to him, our family of faith has shown him welcome when other churches have not. And I have heard many within our congregation share how much Jerry has to offer to our community. For example, he shares valuable insights during Bible Studies or in Small Groups and adds a beautiful voice to our singing.
From talking with Jerry, he is very aware that many people see him only as a person in need. Yes, he is disabled and on a fixed, disability-based income. Yes, he has been homeless for at least 25 years, though for the past couple of years he has been fairly stable because of his disability income. Yes, his housing basically takes his entire monthly income leaving him with little to nothing left for food and other basic needs. And, yes, Jerry was recently robbed of his entire August income leaving him homeless. (Please take a look a a few simple was we can help at the end of this article.)
But here’s the truth: Jerry is a person, a human being, a child of God just like you and me. He should not be defined by his needs. He should not be judged by his appearance. He should not experience closed doors at churches and communities of faith in Dunn because people associate him with being needy or homeless. Instead, we should trying walking in his shoes for a bit to try to understand who he really is.
I have learned this week that there are some terrible rumors that have been circulating in Dunn for more than 20 years about Jerry. These rumors have been told as if they are true. And they are terrible painful for Jerry. So, just before I left town last week, I spent some time researching these rumors to determine if they were in fact true. I searched records and databases. I talked with our local police department. And I confirmed that these terrible rumors are, in a word, false.
Can you imagine what it must be like to walk into a non-profit, service agency, or church and be labeled something terrible that is an utter lie?
Well, some folks can imagine that…though likely not the same labels that Jerry has faced. Rumors like these about Jerry are often like demons that follow after someone, and I hope we can help exorcise these from the mind and consciousness of people within the Dunn community! So, I am working hard to talk with folks who I heard these rumors from to dispel them. After all, sharing the truth in the form of good news is a huge part of a pastors job, isn’t it?!
After talking some more with Jerry on Monday morning about making it through the next few weeks until his next monthly check, I have a few requests to make of everyone in our congregation:
- Can you help by bringing some individual frozen meals to the church which Jerry can come get when I am in the office? (Food is something easy we can do right now for someone in our congregation! You could make a casserole, pasta dish, soup or something simple, and package it in some individual containers.)
- Let me know about any housing options to which you may be connected or have access. (Jerry is on a long waiting list for lower income housing. He currently has to stay week to week in a motel because he does not know of other options. If you have access to a small apartment between $400-600, Jerry has stable income and could make that work.)
Thanks to each of you for helping with these requests. Thanks also for how you all make our family of faith a welcoming place for folks in our community, most especially folks like Jerry.
If You Missed Sunday’s Sermon…
Read or Listen to Water Walking – Matthew 14:22-33
God’s Words for This Week
Genesis 45:1-15 – Joseph kissed all of his brothers and wept, embracing them. After that, his brothers were finally able to talk to him. (NRSV, v.15)
Psalm 67 – Let God grant us grace and bless us; let God make his face shine on us… (CEB, v.1)
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 – In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in. (The Message, v.32)
Matthew 15:10-28 – [A woman] knelt before [Jesus] and said, “Lord, help me.” He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” (CEB v. 25-28)
This Week at Hood
Monday, August 14 – Wednesday, August 16 – Member and Regular Attender Meetings (Call or stop by the church to sign up)
Thursday, August 17 – Pastor Jason at a planning meeting in Charlotte for a Disciples training
Friday, August 18, Time TBD – Outreach Team Meeting
Sunday, August 20, 11:00 am – Worship
Sunday, September 10 – Launch of a Freeway: A Not So Perfect Guide To Freedom (A 6-week sermon series and Small Group Bible Study…more details coming soon!)
Sunday, October 22 – Homecoming
October 31, 2018
October 24, 2018
October 17, 2018