I met Janet in the parking lot of one of our local supermarkets. I was on my way to Harvest Banquet, with a stop along the way to pick up Terry, a friend of mine whose home is a tent pitched in a wooded area behind a busy strip mall. Janet was flying a sign. “Flying a sign” is a euphemism for holding a piece of cardboard with a written plea for cash.
I asked her to come to Harvest Banquet with my son and I, but she declined – her camp mate was returning soon and she had dinner on the grill. She continued to explain that her goal for the day was to raise enough money to exchange their empty propane tank for a full one. In addition to cooking, propane fuels the catalytic heater that warms their tent on cold nights.
And the nights are getting colder. Asked what our homeless brothers and sisters needed right now, Janet unsurprisingly reviewed a list that included thermal underwear, hats, gloves, coats, blankets, and of course propane.
Janet has short-term and long-term goals and objectives. She is training to be a paid tax preparer, and her camp mate is working at an auto parts store. But his job requires him to drive every day, so they need to prioritize maintenance. Every car repair sets them two steps back from the path towards a home with a roof and four walls.
For Janet, her friend, and others like her there is no way out. But God “…gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist”, (Romans 4:17b). StreetLight exists to do the work of calling into being that which does not exist: to call into being ways out of homelessness in a cultural, economic, and spiritual atmosphere that proclaims an exit does not exist.
This is the work that Jesus came to do – this is the meaning of our Christmas celebration, fast approaching. For God – Who possess all wealth, power, privilege, and Who has a really nice home, stepped into our world. He came to be with us, who were poor, homeless, dressed in filthy rags, and intoxicated by our own selfishness. He is changing us to be like Him; to call into existence hope when it does not exist. He is preparing a home for us.
StreetLight provides people the opportunity to step into another world and to change it. Great things are coming in 2012 as we seek to increase the capacity and effectiveness of ministry to the homeless. At the same time, there is great need. I see this need as an opening for each one of us to participate.
The opportunity to participate with StreetLight is exciting, but to be honest, we are “Flying a Sign.”
Financial contributions are especially needed right now. The amount doesn’t need to be large if participation is wide. 1,000 people donating just $10 each would empower StreetLight to provide our normal level of support to our clientele to help them survive the winter. There are several ways to do this, either through our donations page, or you can join a community of givers through Razoo.com at our link there: http://razoo.com/story/TheStreetLight.