“$30. That can feed a family of four in Viet Nam for a month.” –My Dad, to me
… I headed downtown with some guys in my small group this past Monday as part of a serving event we participate in. We get the opportunity to serve Seattle’s homeless dinner with the Lord’s Table, a program that serves the homeless every Monday through Thursday. It’s good in the sense that we know that they’ll get a good hot meal that evening. It wasn’t exactly the warmest weather either. But getting the opportunity to talk to them, hear their stories, and just serve their needs is something we’re called to do as Christians.
We’ve all served through the Lord’s Table numerous times. But as the first couple of individuals came around, I think for a number of us, there was a bit of surprise and heartache.
As we were serving food, there were these two little girls with their mother and father right behind them going through the line. I’ve seen homeless kids when I made my trip over to Viet Nam when I was in high school, but I expected there to be homeless children given the conditions of the country. But it was hard to see such young kids in our own city, let alone country, going through a serving line like this. It took a second to really regain my focus and composure at what I saw. How could we let young children go hungry and have to go through lines like these when we’re the richest country in the world?
… The next day, I was just going through my social networking feeds and I noticed a Twitter and Facebook post made my church in Bellevue (Mars Hill Church) with the words “URGENT”. It was talking about 2,000 pounds of food (or about one ton) being stolen from the Salvation Army (here’s the news link from Seattle’s Komo News about the theft). That news story just baffled me. Why would anyone steal from an organization that looks to serve the poor?
… I knew that Seattle Restaurant Week was going on this week and next week. I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to check out some of the local restaurants that are around, trying out new plates and dishes for a pretty cheap price ($28 for a three course meal). But then I was thinking about what happened these past few days. The two girls being at the Lord’s Table to be served… the theft at the storage container at the Salvation Army… How could I really indulge in eating what would be high-class food when I know things like this are going on? (The ironic thing about this is that while I was asking myself this question, I had take-out at a local teriyaki restaurant… Way to think through, right?)
$28 is a lot of money. You can buy a good portion of pasta, canned goods, and other non-perishable food with that amount. Part of me is just thinking “This sucks. I was looking forward to doing this for the past couple of months. Now I’m being called to give that up… Ugh.” But another part is reminding me of what we’re called to do as followers of Christ: “To serve the poor. Serve the hungry.” And the thought of how we are arguably the richest nation in the world and we still have people who are in need of a meal is hard to fathom.
In the end, it doesn’t matter that some of the homeless may have inflicted themselves with poverty for the poor decisions that they’ve made. It’s not our place to judge them for those decisions. If that’s the case, they’re already facing punishment for living such a life. For all we know, they could have taken every preventive measure to try to avoid coming to be fed and this is the only option left. And can we blame those two little girls for coming to this line when they’re probably as innocent as one can be at that young age? Obviously not.
Thanksgiving is just a little over a month away. But it’s something to think about. We should be thankful and blessed for what we’ve been given. It doesn’t mean we should hoard what we have though and not share it. We’d just be another Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49 – Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.) To use the gifts that we’ve been given to give to those that need it more than us.
The past few days have just left me with something to think about. It’s just a reminder of the fact that there are so many people out there in this world that are hungry. And that doesn’t exclude Seattle. We can criticize the government for not trying to fix this problem. Or we can help remedy the problem and start taking it into our own hands and doing something about it.
I know where my $28 will be going. Sorry to whatever local restaurant I was planning on going to. There’s a bunch of people who could be fed with that kind of money.