Monday, June 29, 2009


Our first night serving at City Gate went very well. Most of the group was there before the scheduled time, so we were able to go over things well ahead of schedule. I only knew a few of the people that showed up, the majority of the group came as a family, but not directly from our church.

I'm not so good at opening up to new people, so it was a little awkward for me getting started. Pastor Bob stepped up and spoke, which helped my silence, and then I was good. I shared with the group as much as I could about working there, and then David, who runs the kitchen, came out and spoke some more about his plans for the night. Once we got everyone organized, we settled in to wait for the doors to open.

I had been down there once before, so I knew right away what was needed, and once David spoke and said a prayer, we were open to serving the food. This shelter is unlike the other ones I had served at before, instead of serving them via a food line, we go up to each table and serve them as though they were in a restaurant. We are encouraged to talk with them, and their expectations are high, because they are used to being served right away.

There was 3 of us working the floor, bringing food and drinks to the homeless who came in to eat. It took the other 2 a while to get a rhythm going, so I paid closer attention to those who looked like they were still waiting to be served. I love how gracious and thankful these people are, knowing this may be the one meal they get that day. Some of them seemed like they lived a really hard life, and others didn't seem like they should even be there, but it's not for us to know why they are there, just to serve them.

I really love going down and serving the homeless, so I just sort of float on air when I'm down there. I move quickly to make sure they all have what they need, and then quickly go back to make sure they don't need anything else. I think we moved people through for just over an hour, before it slowed down. It could have been 60 or 70 people, maybe more, maybe less, all I know is we were really busy for that first hour.

Once it started to slow down a little, I took time to get some food and sit down and chat with one of the gentleman that I had been serving that night. He really didn't seem like he should be there, so I just started asking him questions, trying to get some insight into what this person was doing out on the streets. He was very clean, well dressed, and his teeth were very nice, which is unusual for street people. He was very particular about what he ate, and only wanted the healthy food, so I served him several plates of salad. He spoke about living in a homemade shelter, in a back yard of what could have been an abandoned home. I talked about his work, what he done in the past, and whether or not he desired to be working or not. He talked of working to help others, but not of the kind of work that pays money, and yet, he didn't seem to be without, or needing of anything. We talked about Germany, a place that we both had lived at one time, but for different reasons, and different seasons of time. He shared with me how unhealthy the foods I liked to eat were, and I shared with him that I was working on eating healthier, because my son was not a healthy eater, and tended to be a little overweight, so for him to eat better, so must I. I told him the story of how I used to be overweight in my teenage years, until some people I considered "parental figures" shared with me that I was overweight. I took it to heart, and changed my habits that very day. I've never been over weight like that again. I was very blessed to be able to sit and have this wonderful conversation with this man, as though we were friends sharing a cup of coffee and talking about old times. We reached a point when they were closing down to clean, so I had to end my conversation and thank him for his time and start cleaning up.

Now that it had slowed down, I was able to see how everyone else was doing, and the feel in the air was that everyone had had a wonderful evening. We were all blessed by being there that night. I didn't get out of there until well after 9 as I stayed and shared my "flier" that I was passing out to get donations of clothing for the homeless later in the year. I look forward to whatever God has planned for this ministry, serving at City Gate, as well as being able to provide clothes and blankets when the cold weather arrives.

1 comment:

Mel said...

I greatly enjoyed reading this account of your experience, and of your conversation with that fellow. Thank you for reaching out and making a difference in the world, and right here in our own community. May God richly bless your efforts and fill you from the inside out with His joy. I know He is smiling on you. :)