On January 7th and again recently The Mercy Table shared “A Real Life Encounter with the Hospitality of Jesus Christ.” This publication told of a woman Sarah, and how she along with others went into the tent cities of Anderson, Indiana to feed homeless people. Sarah and her team take meals to the food insecure every Saturday delivering a hot meal, a sack lunch, a beverage, a glimmer of hope, and the beginning of a trusting relationship. As she approaches the familiar grounds she calls out to each tented tenant by name. Sarah and her team do their best to discover the hidden locations and camps where many of the homeless live to provide for them also. They are now serving up to 75 individuals per week.
We were honored to join Sarah on vehicle and foot one cold Saturday morning trekking through the muddied tent cities. On our journey, living under a bridge, we were introduced to Matt & Simon. Matt was the younger of the bridged residents and took the patriarch responsibilities upon himself to care for the others. It was evident Matt cared for Simon deeply and with great concern for his well being. As conversation ensued with Matt and Simon we quickly learned that a kind gentleman gifted them with fire wood and kindling. The fire wood helped to keep them warm and to block the cold winter winds. When you asked Matt if what he needed he asked for an ax and boots. Boots were once given to him but he gave to another he believed had a greater need placing their needs above his own. Time and time again when visiting homeless communities you are privileged to witness such acts of humble kindness.
Not too long after our visit with Matt and Simon we learned the police had raided and evicted the tenants of the tent cities and those living under a bridge and any other homeless individuals they came upon. Some were evicted because they were on private property, others to keep from the cold and set up in motels – some at the officers expense, church organizations, and individuals, and others were arrested. This is usually when a lot of opinions ensue about whether or not an individual deserved the plight. Questions and comments that quickly arise are:
“Were they on drugs?”
“What did they do to deserve this?”
“Do they have mental health problems?”
“They’re probably in and out of jail all the time?”
And other questions like these. Typically, it’s not a singular poor decision that brought them to this place, rather multiple poor choices, lack of community, lack of identity, and a variety of other reasons. The truth is yes, some probably did fit this description and some most likely did not, and most of us have family members or know someone in this situation also. Now imagine if we instead assumed each individual was doing the best they knew and showered them with the love of Jesus Christ walking alongside them doing our best to guide them as a community to meet the needs they cannot meet themselves all in an effort to take them from one side of the table to the other? No, not all will respond or want this for themselves, we just have to be willing to pray for wisdom, discernment, and ask.
So where are Matt and Simon now? They are living in a shared apartment. Praise God! They still struggle with some basic needs and are doing their best to figure it out with Sarah and their teams help. Please continue to keep them in your prayers as they are willing and desire a better life, the abundant life.
The Mercy Table IS praying for each of you in our Outpost family, each of you who volunteer, even if we haven’t met you yet, our partnering organizations and their efforts, the communities we serve, and YOU! If you would like please send us a message via email, our website, or our Facebook page and let us know how we can specifically pray for you.
*The real names of the individuals have been changed to protect their identities*