Los Angeles County has an estimated 91,000 homeless. Orange County-a bordering, affluent county-has an even higher percentage of homeless. As I pray to not be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of poverty in my community, I have sought to embrace Mother Teresa's wisdom: "I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look only at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one."
A local Orange County youth group recently came on their annual CSM-LA weekend trip. One morning, in seeking to live out Momma T's wisdom, they were given a few dollars to take a homeless person out for breakfast. Christie and her son were with the group who enjoyed a scrumptious Irish meal (McDonalds) with Charles. Charles was an older man who was dressed in ratty clothes and female flip flops that were half his foot-size. After breakfast, Christie helped Charles pick out an entire new wardrobe from clothes collected at her church.
But the thought of Charles' sandals never left her mind. She cried out to God for him all weekend. When her group left on Sunday, Christie told me that she was going to collect shoes and socks (which are like gold to the homeless) from her friends. Three days later, Christie and her sister loaded their Expedition up with the donations, and made their way back to downtown LA. She called me to ask for directions and to tell me that she had been praying all week for God to help her find Charles. I was touched by her act of compassion, but realized that finding Charles within downtown's sea of homeless people was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
As Christie exited the freeway and began entering downtown, she saw a homeless man standing by the traffic light. At first she thought he was barefoot, but as she drove closer she quickly realized that this man was wearing size six female flip-flops! Charles was given new socks and shoes; Christie and her sister were blessed to eat another meal with Charles; and I learned a valuable lesson in the power of prayer.
-Jason Porterfield, City Host, CSM LA