Rough Night

"Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes
and see how good God is" 
Psalm 34:8

Thursday was a nasty day weather wise, it was very cold and very wet, there had been 49mm of rain by 9am and it didn't ease off much for the rest of the day, and the snow on the mountains just added to the chill factor. All in all, not a great night to be sleeping out rough.

But that was the reality for a group of regulars at The Gathering's Soup Kitchen. It was a bit quieter than usual because of the weather, so we had time to chat with them. We've known some of them for a few years now and we knew a few of them were homeless, but I have to be honest I was shocked to hear that two of the smarter looking guys were also now homeless. I guess I was judging them on their appearance, they certainly didn't look homeless. Shame on me!

As we were talking it became clear that they were struggling because of the cold and damp and three of them were without sleeping bags or blankets. Add to that the constant fear they live in of being discovered by the police or some unaccountable security company that will chase them off and beat them, and life is truly grim. They have constructed a makeshift camp near a new property development, but they've been careful and made sure it's hidden from sight by trees and bushes.

But here's why I love the local church and believe it is the hope of the nations...

Before these guys left to settle in to their camp for the night we loaded them up with extra pots of soup and lots of packets of high energy food sachets to ensure they had enough to eat for a few days. As we were chatting before they left, we made a further promise to help as much as we could. There and then Paula mad a phone call to secure some street sleeper bags and via social media we were able to contact a few Christians we know through various church groups, and by lunchtime on Friday we had more than enough street sleeper bags, some blankets and a few other bits with which to bless these guys and another family living in a garage with a 4 year old & 9 month old twins. That was the church responding, not social services, not some big named charity, the local church. Guys who gave freely and sacrificially, whose names will never be known, who will receive no recognition for the crucial role they played in helping these guys out. They helped because they were doing it as an act of love for Jesus. That was their motivation, end of.

I also love the fact that these guys had a promise made to them by the church and then saw the church acting on that promise by fulfilling it. All we can do is pray that God will stir their hearts and they might respond to his love for them.

Taken from Paula's post on FB:
What an awesome morning of blessing! Last night at soup kitchen our hearts broke a bit more as 3 more of our regulars went off to rough sleep in the brutally cold temperatures and pouring rain. Another came asking if we had any warm clothing for her 1 year old twins. Then this morning our HOPE carers asked if we could perhaps find hot water bottles for them. How God's people came through! We now have 10 more Street Sleeper Bags, 5 cozy hot water bottles and the most beautiful warm clothes, blankets and hats for our twins (someone had fun buying that little lot!). So grateful to God "Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see how good God is" Psalm 34:8

The group photo is used with their permission.

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