A lot of my friends are homeless. A lot of my friends live in poverty.
Before I knew them, my idea of homelessness and poverty was quite different than it is now. My friends have taught me a lot.
My poor and homeless friends know how to express love to others. Recently, I have been paying closer attention to the conversations that take place in the van I drive on Thursday nights. The words of encouragement I hear astonish me. More than words, these people who have next to nothing in terms of material means share those material means they do have with their friends.
My poor and homeless friends know how and are eager to find ways to serve. “Can I help you do this?” “What else can I be doing?” I hear these questions frequently. Sometimes, I don’t even hear the questions; I just see the people doing the things that need to be done.
My poor and homeless friends know how to work hard. Have you ever had to figure out how to get to your next meal? Have you ever had to figure out where you will be able to use the bathroom? Have you ever had to search for the places that are safe enough to sit or lie down or sleep without fear of being hurt, robbed, or run out?
My poor and homeless friends know how to worship. No matter what is going on in their lives, when I gather to worship with these friends of mine they sing and clap and dance and yell and jump and smile and cry and lift hands and fall on their knees and…they worship. No hindrances; no barriers; no worries; just worship.
My poor and homeless friends have taught me that sometimes I do not know a group of people as well as I thought I did.
Sometimes, people make bad choices and have to live with their consequences.
Sometimes, people are victims of other’s bad choices.
And sometimes, people are held down by a system that is set up to keep people in poverty for generations.
My friends bless me by allowing me to be a part of their lives. They teach me. They care for me. They love me.
They accept me.
They are my friends.
And for that, I thank God constantly.