“God’s unwieldy love, which cannot be contained by our words, wants to accept all that we are and sees our humanity as the privileged place to encounter this magnanimous love. No part of our hardwiring or our messy selves is to be disparaged. Where we stand, in all our mistakes and imperfection, is holy ground. It is where God has chosen to be intimate with us and not in any way but this.”
-Father Gregory Boyle Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
Growing up just outside the city in Baltimore County, I became familiar with the socio-economic differences and divisions present in the city as well as the presence of many men and women experiencing homelessness. I was blessed to have attended Catholic School which exposed me to the faith, taught me good virtues, and led me to discover the joy of serving my neighbor.
We often catch a glimpse of the face of God in the’ little ones’.
Although I was not practicing my faith in early college, the Lord placed a desire on my heart to travel to another country and serve others in need. Towards the end of college, on a mission trip to Haiti, I heard and received the Lord pulling me back to the faith. On this trip, I learned to look for Christ in those I was serving, loving, or being loved by. As I came back from that trip and began to engage and live my faith again, I started to take notice of the ‘little ones’. My remaining years in college as well as in recent years I have developed a hunger for justice. In becoming more aware of the fortune and privilege I’ve been given in being surrounded by supportive relationships, a good education, and so much more, I have a desire to give back and lift others that have been broken down by their circumstances.
While living in Baltimore over the past three years, I’ve been drawn to encounter men and women experiencing homelessness. Oftentimes while being at a stop light in the city and seeing someone asking for money or food, I will feel ‘cut to the heart’. I would sometimes experience this on my way home late at night during cycles of working long hours at a desk that was creating a numbness in my heart and mind. There is one stop light where I would see the same man where I believe the Lord was developing and helping me understand the longings of my heart. There was a particular humbleness about this man that I’d notice, and his sign always read, “God bless you.” I felt a desire to do something more than giving him money, but I didn’t know how or what that would entail. At this stoplight and others, I remember that I started to think about not only the material poverty these men and women were facing but also the relational poverty being experienced. I imagined that it must be hard for them to maintain a good sense of self-worth, given the way many in the world look upon them. I grew a desire to remind them of their dignity, and I thought about talking to them as a way I could help! Often while walking around my neighborhood or going out with friends, I’d be approached by someone in need asking for money. By the grace of God, I had a willingness to help despite any fears and barriers. At first, these interactions were mostly transactional-I’d either help by buying food or giving them some cash. As I grew more comfortable and confident in these interactions and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I’ve learned how to love and pursue
relationships in these encounters rather than just providing immediate resources.
I’ve been volunteering with Source of All Hope for the last year. It is during this time and the many encounters I’ve had with the poor living in the streets of Baltimore, I’ve come to find that Christ is truly present in the hungry, sick, impoverished, oppressed, and imprisoned.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you have done for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” -Matthew 25:40.
I have come to recognize that I too, am poor. Navigating and moving through various trials in my early adulthood, I’ve come to recognize my spiritual poverty and need for God’s love, grace, and formation. Despite my faults and failures, I realize that God still loves me even in all my messiness. Through these discoveries of my own poverty and weakness, I responded boldly to God’s call to give Him a year of my life to learn to live meekly and learn to depend more on Him.
I hope that this mission year will be a time of healing for me, and I will continue to grow closer to the Lord. I hope to be able to remind and help ground my friends on the street of their identities as beloved children of God. Knowing the truth of our identity empowers us to pursue God and His desires for us. The pursuit of a deeper relationship with God yields grace and strength to make sometimes hard, but good changes in our lives. I hope to continue to build authentic relationships with the men and women experiencing homelessness in Baltimore, understand their obstacles, and walk with them in their joys and struggles. I hope to teach them that Christ is always with them. I hope that the Lord will use me to express His magnanimous love for His sons and daughters and I look forward to the ways I will experience God’s magnanimous love through my friends on the streets.
As part of my mission year I am looking forward to living in solidarity with the poor, learning simplicity, and dependence on others for my material needs. I cannot live this mission year without financial support and would be so thankful to have you as part of my mission support team.
If you are interested in hearing more about my mission year or would like to join my support team you can contact me at email@example.com, 443-768-7507, or click the link at the top of this page to join my support team.