Here’s a guest post from the new Serve Pastor for Gateway in South and Central, John Short:
Coming off of Mopac and into the downtown area usually has a distinct Austiny feel that I have come to love about our city. However, at 5am on a weekday the streets look like a movie set with no traffic and no people …just lights and buildings. Saying there is no people is not exactly accurate. The people I typically see and anticipate seeing in the city are shoppers, jay-walkers, business men/women, construction workers, and bus stoppers. At 5am though, the city reveals people who we (I) normally do not look for or search out. They are the homeless. What ever your politics are it does not matter , because it is plain to see at 5am in any city the people you see sitting on the sidewalk or leaning against a building probably do not have a home or are in between finding a home. So, at 5am coming off of Mopac and driving up to the First United Methodist Church the city reveals that there is a lot of people in our city in need. That is where I experienced “Feed My People” (check out video of this organization here: http://www.foundationhomeless.org/about_us.php) . This is an organization that has been around long enough for consistency to be built-in the community and all of those that need a meal can come in with welcome arms. One of those people with arms that welcome is a UT student named Mandy. What amazed me about Mandy was that she has been faithfully coming to Feed My People (FMP) for three years every Tuesday and Thursday. Did I mention that this was at 5am and that she was a college student? Mandy and a whole group of her friends are very committed to the people that walk through the doors. Mandy, who comes from a wealthy Houston family, told me very passionately as the room filled with about 350 people, “this is my family”. Mandy was put in charge of a favorite area of the room recently …the sweets table. I watched her very orderly lay out all the packaged sweets, cans of soda, and pastries. One of the organizers of FMP asked her to own that area because He saw how much she loved serving. What the organizer did not know was that Mandy was actually thinking of backing off of her commitment when he asked, but because he asked she felt compelled to invest her time. Mandy told me, “I love this place and I’m committed now more than ever”.
It is so easy to forget about this counter-culture of homeless, addicted, broken, and health afflicted. To donate once in a while or volunteer ever so often is a good thing and a need. However, I was reminded by Mandy of a few things about serving;
- Your community does not have to be with people just like you.
- Leadership comes from compassionate commitment.
- A posture of I’m just like you and not I’m coming down here to help you gives you credibility with those you serve.
- If it’s meaningful you’ll get up early for it and you’ll invite your community to join the cause.
- If we ask faithful people to lead we validate their service.
Every Tuesday and Thursday Mandy will be working the sweets table at FMP at 13th and Lavaca. It would be very easy to join in with her and learn as she has learned. People are people and we all can help.
Email John.Short@GatewayChurch.com for more info on serving with Feed My People