I can’t remember where I heard this quote but for the last few weeks, it’s been resonating with me. As a summer city host, I got to witness a lot of things that I never even thought about when I was in school - such as the homeless of the city, the working poor, and most importantly, how us followers of Christ are being “the light” in these situations. I could sit here and list hundreds of ways that is being done, but for the sake of time, I will only talk about my favorite site.
There is a place that I get the chance to visit only once a week, its called the Waystation and it is one of the most physically present ways you can see God’s handiwork. Rather than tell you what the Waystation is and what they do, I will simply tell you what happens on a typical day there(from the perspective of a city host of course).
On Waystation days, I wake up at 6 in the morning. We (the group and I) must be out of the door by 6:30 am and on our way. The Waystation is held at a church downtown called Palmer Episcopal Church, so that is where we arrive at 6:50 am. As we walk up to the Church, we can see a line of people already waiting for breakfast, most of them homeless. As soon as we enter the premises, we find Terry the director of the program and he immediately puts the kids to work in the kitchen cutting pastries, putting together peanut butter and jelly, and filling containers with gallons of juice. There are usually other volunteers in the kitchen by the time we arrive and they are already cooking whatever is for breakfast that day. Options include pancakes, grits, eggs, sausages, soup, rice, pastries, etc.
At 7:30, after the kids are done putting out the bread and pastries, there is usually a span of thirty minutes in which most of the group can sit around and talk. At 8am breakfast is put out, the doors are opened , and this is where I see Christ the most. People start pouring in to get in line for food. Some look grumpy, others are smiling, some say good morning, and others barely grunt in your direction. Regardless of anyone’s personal attitude, Christ is present and I can feel Him as I put on a smile, say good morning and hand a man perhaps the only meal he might have for the day. The Waystation feeds about 300 people on a typical day so this process is repeated about 300 times.
After everyone has had a chance to get food, there is a call for seconds and I often see some of the homeless getting food to go by stuffing plastic Wal-mart or Kroger bags with their seconds. I remember eating with a group of homeless men one day at the Waystation and I saw a man stuffing his bag with rice and sausages and upon feeling my eyes staring at him, he looks at me and says “This is the only meal I’m goin’ have all day man, gotta plan for the future right?” followed by a boisterous laughter. This especially touched my heart because I can’t imagine not knowing where your next meal might come from or if it will ever come at all.
After breakfast is served, we head back to the housing site and in my mind, the question arises whether or not I will see the same people next week, because there is a hope in me that maybe somehow by next week their situation would have changed and they could be the ones volunteering, but that is in Christ’s hands. What I can do is thank God for providing a service such as the Waystation and hope that more Christians take the time out to really be “the light” as Christ has called us to.
-Israel, CSM Houston Summer 2010 City Host