Friendship Begins with a Conversation
Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Volunteer Post by Ashton Glod
I volunteered with The Human Impact in the fall of 2019 for about 7 weeks. I heard about the Human Impact by working as a barista in the same building where their office space is located.
At first, I did not quite know what they did, but as time went on I got to know each of the staff members when they came to the bar to coffee or tea. Once I heard that their mission is to love people without a home, my interest peaked…
I am a Christian who is studying theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, serving Jesus Christ is the most important thing to me. The second most chief demand that Christ has placed on our lives is to serve and love people who are in need (Mark 12:30-31).
Throughout Jesus’ ministry on Earth he champions the call to care for the poor and isolated persons, yet this call is seldom answered by humanity (Luke 3:11). Even the Old Testament
promotes caring for the poor as a righteous calling which deeply pleases God (Isaiah 58:7, Lev. 25:35-36, Prov. 19:17).
This call requires one to love others who cannot repay the kindness they are given (Luke 6:32-36). This call demands a high emotional, temporal, and financial investment from those who answer it.
Perhaps most difficult of all, this call promises countless hours of thankless toil. In order to make a significant impact in the lives of the long term homeless one must devote themselves to consistently loving the unlovely.
A Hero who Loves
For a long time, I have wondered how people ought to approach the dilemma of homelessness. Homelessness seemed too vast to comprehend, to solve. There are hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets in America alone, each with their own unique story and crippling shackles.
The truth is, you cannot be the superhero who defeats society’s homelessness, you can only be the hero who loves people who do not have a home (Deut. 15:11, John 12:8). This is what The Human Impact does.
The first time I went out to the streets, my perspective drastically shifted. I realized that homelessness is not an amorphous dilemma that randomly plagues certain members of society, rather it is a group of people who need to be loved.
My “Homeless” Tinted Sunglasses
People who live on the streets are not simply “the homeless.” It is better to refer to them as people who do not have a home because we tend to dehumanize people when we label them as “homeless.” Talking to these people knocked off my “homeless” tinted sunglasses, enabling me to see them as normal people who have experienced devastating events.
Lucky is a man who cannot realize that his addictions are the sources of his misfortune. Tony is a wise, godly, and intelligent man who lost his job from having a stroke. Yolanda is a woman who has been ostracized by her church because of behavior caused by a mental disorder. Tommy and Deedee served in the military. Michael and Samuel are sweet, kind men who seem perfectly normal, forcing me to wonder how they could have possibly ended up on the streets.
Not Meant to be Alone
Each person who lives on the streets has been separated from mainstream and thrust into poverty by a combination of variable triggers. These triggers are both internal and external in origin, but one commonality amongst all triggers is that the person they afflict is unable to overcome them alone. And helping people overcome the circumstances which are trapping them in the culture of homelessness is nothing short of a long and arduous journey.
Many people on the streets do not want help. People like Lucky are unwilling to believe that their habits are self-destructive. Others have expensive medical and legal needs. Some simply have a hard to properly relating to people. The only way to help them is to sincerely love them and befriend them.
A Real Friendship
I am not talking about a friendship which ends once a certain purpose is accomplished. I am talking about a real friendship that you would have with people in your community, school, church, etc. A real friendship takes time, dialogue, vulnerability, empathy, money, and love.
Friends care about each other’s physical and spiritual well-being just like Jesus did for those whom he encountered (Luke 9:11-13). Friends live life together.
This all begins with just walking up to people and having a conversation.