I read an article during the recent very hot weather that talked about how difficult it is for homeless people to get enough to drink in a heat wave. So many public toilets require at least a 20p payment. Shops are reluctant to give out cups of water and water fountains and public taps are a thing of the past. It is often the case that homeless people are moved on from shady parks and so suffer in the direct sunlight.
Reading the article coincided with a training evening that we were having at the Church where we learnt about Safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults in our Churches. During the meeting, a homeless gentleman interrupted us and asked for prayer. At first, we wondered if it was a practical demonstration set up by Pat our trainer! However it wasn’t and Sally and I took the gentleman into a side room where we quickly discovered that it was not prayer he required but permission to sleep in the churchyard, a lift to a job interview in the morning and batteries for his radio.
Sally had a sleepless night feeling concerned for the man and worrying that we should have done more to help. As she lay awake, praying, she felt very strongly that God said to her ‘feed him’. In the morning I was dispatched with a big plate of breakfast which he enjoyed sitting in the Remembrance garden in the sunshine and later when I gave him a lift to his job interview his backpack bulged with the large, nutritious picnic lunch Sally had provided.
The next night Sally found it hard to sleep again, ‘Did God mean feed him physically or spiritually?’ she worried.
In fact, the man had a well-thumbed bible and quoted a lot of scripture during our conversation. My point in telling you this is that I believe as Christians God calls us to do both Christian practical care and to be ready to talk to others in all walks of life about our faith.
Jesus says in John 7 v 37 ‘If anyone is thirsty let them come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within them.’ So let’s all be open to receiving from Jesus so that we can flow with living water to others. God has promised to guide and strengthen us for the task. Isaiah 58 v 11 ‘The Lord will guide you always, he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’ A beautiful promise and challenge for us all.