My household was invited to help another organization that seeks out tent cities and other needy individuals in our surrounding community. As we followed to the various locations we watched Sarah call out by the names to those she and her church have been feeding over the last few months. They have only just begun their efforts in this three month old ministry.
This made me think of a sermon I heard given by Pastor Bill Gebhardt of Fellowship Bible Church. He explained how the sheep only recognize one voice and in this scenario they recognized Sarah’s as she called each tent city tenant by name.
Tent cities are tucked away places within the city or town where many homeless live in tented shelters, build shelter out of blankets and other discarded things, and tents. As a result, this creates a community of homeless individuals and families away from the scrutiny of the public.
John 10: 27-28
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Soon we arrived at Matt and Simon’s humble abode under a bridge. Young Matt took it upon himself to be the brother’s keeper and protector of three or four other individuals. I asked if and how they kept warm. Matt humbly invited and welcomed my husband and I into his carpeted home under the bridge. Matt was a very hospitable host as he told us of the Christmas gift they received from a kind man. Matt and those he cares for were gifted with a stack of firewood and kindling that has helped to keep them warm and allow them to reheat their food.
Matt’s current circumstance is only four months old. He and Simon are skilled trades men. One is a painter and a handyman, and the other is well versed in construction and roof tops. With the pandemic people stopped requiring their skills and services as it would require them to enter their home to paint and assess the home’s needs.
Matt has been the recipient of warm coats, boots, and socks but he first gives to the others he has chosen to make himself responsible for, denying himself for the sake of others. When asked if he needs anything he still needs boots and asked for a hatchet. He didn’t ask for money, not for food, not even for a coat or blankets. He asked for tools to build so he could take care of the lives God has entrusted him with.
Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
When I think of this encounter my husband and I recognized witnessing the power and authority of God at work as demonstrated in the following verses:
The Lord God Will Seek Them Out
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
***the names of the individuals have been changed to protect them**