Home to the homeless
POSTED BY Kirgy January 18th, 2012 : 3 COMMENTS
My visit to Metro Community Church on Sunday just won’t leave my mind. Never in my life have I seen a church so Christ-like. Never have I seen a church so caring, so loving, so forgiving. Never have I seen the homeless so at home.
I felt evil sat in the car with Linda outside the church as the homeless queueing up the cold street waiting for the doors to open. There were about thirty people just queueing at the doors. When the doors were unlocked they could hardly get in there any faster. As Linda drove off I felt a moment of tension as I entered a world of unknown.
In the now busy building which would grow to some three-hundred people there were couches, chairs and tables. Another queue had begun to form, so being an Englishmen I joined it. I had been previously told they provide food for all attendees of the church here, and that’s precisely what I got. And what a buffet it was. Good, sustainable and healthy food. Sandwiches with meat, vegetables and fruit. And the Canadian water; coffee.
They get more than just homeless, although they make up 95% of the congregation. There were a couple of families and children there too. It creates an interesting dynamic to the leadership there who created the church to meet the homeless population who were largely unreached in the down-town area.
As I was looking for a place to sit I noticed two guys who had come into the Hope Centre during the week, and as I approached one beckoned me to join, so I did. We had a little banter around the table talking openly and plainly. There’s a more rustic feel to this church than you would find anywhere else. The slogan “where prejudices are left at the door” really did fit this church well.
After some time of eating and chatting came a time of prayer and worship. Although I wouldn’t say everyone joined in, a good 75% did. The remaining few, for whatever reason kept to themselves, perhaps there for the free food, perhaps there silently processing things.
Then came the open microphone time. This is what I loved the most about this church. It was a time simply to open up the microphone to anyone in the building that wanted to share something. There’s so many stories which are still echoing in my mind. A woman who was praising God that she got to see her daughter alone for the first time in four years after she has been recovering from drug and eating problems. A man giving some words of encouragement to the leadership who have been struggling through some hard issues. A man who has been travelling the whole of Canada looking for work, asking for prayer as he would be leaving the church to carrying on his journey to find work. And this is where the humility shone through; a leader simply poured his heart ache out as his grandfather has died, but there was no way he could travel the vast distance to make it to the funeral.
Each time a story was told a few would gather around the scratched up floor of the part-time night club to pray for them. Praising God for His love over this person, and praying for blessing in their situation. Ever centring Christ around them; asking God to work miracles in their lives.
You know, not once did I hear someone moan. I didn’t hear the man searching for work say Canada is useless, he just praised God for providing him warmth from the snow and food for his stomach.
It was then that the preacher came to preach and my time was gone and my ride awaited me outside.
They say a sign of a good church is when a hour service feels like ten minutes, and a sign of a bad church is when ten minutes feels like an hour. That service felt like just minutes, but after three hours the preacher had only just risen to the platform.
My heart just pours out to these guys. Most are searching for food, shelter and God. Despite their struggles and failings, the church leaves the prejudices against some of their drug and alcohol addiction at the doors and welcomes them inside. Its exactly what Jesus would have done, its exactly what He did do, and its all too common that we don’t do it.
What worries me for these homeless is the weather here. Minus 25 degree Celsius it was in Kelowna today. There has been a fair deal of snow, and I can tell you; on my thirty minute walk to church this morning there were no footprints in the snow apart from mine. It is so cold that even the Canadians aren’t venturing in this weather.
And its getting worse, weather reports suggests a snow storm to clip British Columbia in the west Americas. I pray that in the potential minus forty degrees and the potential snow storms, that these guys will find somewhere to stay warm. I’ve heard too many stories already of the homeless found dead in the parks and alleyways.
I feel so helpless to help them. Guess we can always pray.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6 [NIV] )