Back in the 1980’s, my husband, children, and I volunteered once a month at the homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta; about thirty-five miles from our home. It was an inner-city shelter that provided food and a place to sleep for the night for the poor and homeless. They also presented the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and helped to restore the broken lives of the fallen. On yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting a food shelter very near to the community where I live. It was amazing to witness all of the hard work, preparations, and prayerful organization that the volunteers put into this blessed weekly event. Being my first time to visit, I did not know exactly what to expect. But, as the building filled to capacity with wall-to-wall families, I was astonished. The families and individuals were first treated to a time of Worship with beautiful, spirit-filled music. Then, they received the preached word of God; food for their souls. One of the preachers presented the Gospel in English and the second interpreted the Gospel in Spanish. Mind you, this was not taking place in inner-city Atlanta, it was taking place only a few miles from my home. In that one gathering place of over one-hundred fifty people, there were nine nations represented from all over the globe. It suddenly felt as if I was sitting somewhere on a mission field, yet I was only minutes away from home. I can hardly describe the sense of wonder I was feeling. I was reminded that many years ago churches sent missionaries out into the uttermost parts of the world to spread the Gospel, but now God has brought the world to our doorsteps! What a treasured opportunity for all of us to become at-home missionaries. After the Gospel was presented, thirty-five people boldly stood and marched forth asking to receive Christ Jesus into their hearts. Shortly before, these same people had entered the building down-trodden, troubled, and seemingly to have no signs of hope. But, all of a sudden these same people were standing in the front of the room with beaming smiles on their faces and eyes filled with hope. Once again, I felt as if I was on a foreign missionary field; yet within miles from home. The precious group of church volunteers who sponsor this weekly activity also have a baptismal pool made out of an old water-trough sitting in front of the pulpit. Several who had accepted Christ Jesus as their personal Savior that very morning asked to be baptized immediately wearing the very same street clothes they had entered the building. Mind you, there were no white baptismal robes or no change of clothing; simply what they had upon their bodies. The volunteers provided towels to help dry off their soaking wet clothing as they exited from being immersed. I was immediately reminded how Jesus went about doing good for the people before he offered them the Good News of being reconciled unto God. Often, Jesus healed the blind, the lame, the palsy and even fed the five thousand, not counting women and children, to show that He cares for every aspect of our lives; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. After the services, where thirty-five souls had come forth to receive salvation and those who sought baptismal, the volunteers joyfully presented each family with a well-prepared and well-stocked box of food. Then, each family was served a meal consisting of hot-dogs with all of the trimmings, chips, dessert, and cola. It took several hours from start to finish; not counting clean-up time. But, the volunteers were filled with Heavenly joy from the fruits of their labors. For me, I just want to say, “thank you” to these precious and wonderful people, that include my very sweet and kind second-cousin and one of my dear friends from high school. These men and women volunteers possess a gifted vision to meet the needs of families living within their own community and the desire to see the spreading of the Gospel and the upbuilding of God’s kingdom. I hope to visit again, possibly next week, but this time not to just be a bystander, but to be a worker. Today, ask yourself, how many of us are workers for the Lord within our own communities… or just being bystanders? Lord, I want to always be a worker….. “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals (food), BUT JESUS said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me…..And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.” (Matthew 14-15-21 KJV).
Remember, God Loves You.
Lin T. Rollins, Author