Yesterday afternoon I had one of the best times I have had yet in the short time I have been working at my current job. I was recently asked if I would be willing to present a short meeting to the older ladies of my Church in their weekly home league meeting and if I would talk about working with the homeless. Now I am aware that I have only worked with the homeless for a short period of time and my knowledge and experience is slightly lacking, however I had a great idea and accepted.
So yesterday afternoon I went along to the meeting and gave them a meeting unlike anything they are used to or were expecting. It took a little arranging with my managers and colleagues but I managed to arrange to take some of the residents of the homeless shelter I work in along to the meeting with me and allowed them to speak of their experiences and thoughts on homelessness and living in a homeless shelter.
The meeting was more of a question and answer session which seemed to work quite well and seeing the reactions of the audience to some of the replies and stories was interesting. At the beginning of the meeting the audience were expecting what most people without experience with the homeless would assume. These guys must be homeless for a reason, they are possibly lazy or a victim of their own devices, uneducated and uncivilized. However after a short amount of time listening to the stories and history of the residents you could see the audience beginning to realise that these are normal everyday people you could easily pass in the street. They began to realise that for a few situations and circumstances being slightly different these guys could be living a "normal" life and it could be us in their position.
I know that since I first began working with the homeless I have had many up and down times, I have had great days where it seems you could possibly fix all the problems and then others where it seems there is no way to make any progress. In these experiences I have learned to value these people and the skills they can bring, I have learned that there can indeed be many diamonds in the rough. I am not saying that there are not problems, that there are not people not wanting of help or not extremely difficult to help. But I have come to realise that acceptance of who these people are, of the way they are is the beginning. I have realised that in seeing the good in each of them you can begin to bring it out and how them a life very different to what they currently live.
We are all victims of stereotyping and we are all guilty of propagating stereotypes through both the way we act and how we think of others. Sometimes we need to sit and think, or listen to the world around us and realise that behind every stereotype is a person, behind every mask is a soul in hiding.
Jesus was always smashing through stereotypes with both His actions and the interactions He had with others. He was not one to ignore someone because they had been painted in a certain light by society, He was not one to judge someone for a situation or circumstance they were currently in. Instead He look inside to the good each of them had inside and found a way to let it out. This is something I have learned in association with the homeless and need to apply in all walks of my life, as Christians it is something we should all be doing with everyone we meet.
This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.