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January 8 – Winter Shelter

1 John chapter 4

Our church participated in housing 65 homeless guests for a week. We provided a place to sleep along with breakfast and dinner. My wife and I provided breakfast one morning. A local Bojangles offered to provide food and several volunteers joined in to serve. Dee Swanson, one of our volunteers wrote about what happened next: 

When my husband and I arrived, the first thing we noticed was Pastor Larry talking to the Bojangles manager on the phone, “There is a fire, and you are not going to be able to bring anything? Oh no!” Immediately our volunteers began putting Plan B into action. Pastor Larry raced out to buy donuts. One volunteer rummaged through the freezer and found sausage and bacon. Others opened cans of fruit along with yogurt and muffins.

But then, after we delivered our makeshift breakfast? Surprise! Bojangles turned up with their promised menu. They had experienced a fire and were running behind. Whew! As the ad says, “It was Bo time!” 

As I rolled one of the carts delivering the sausage biscuits, one of the guests asked, “Do you have any jam?” Without hesitation, I quickly responded, “No, we don’t.” At the same time, I was thinking to myself, “Hey, you have no idea how chaotic this morning has been. I just gave you a warm sausage biscuit. What more do you want?”

Obviously, what he wanted was simply some jam to go on the biscuit. Almost immediately, I could hear my mother’s voice chastising me. “What a twerp you are! Did you forget that you are in God’s house and supposedly sharing His love with these folks? You didn’t even offer to go to the kitchen and look for jam?”

So, I stepped back and gave a second, more Christian response. “You know I’m new at this. Let me check.” When I scurried into the kitchen, they found a cardboard box of at least 300 packets of jam plus another box of small butter containers. Now that’s the way we show our Christian love: Warm sausage biscuits customized with jam and butter.

We are challenged to love our neighbor and offer God’s love and grace as a testimony of our faith. One example? Providing shelter for our homeless guests. God is continually offering opportunities to witness our faith, sometimes through words and other times through actions. “If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.” (1 John 4:12)

Prayer Challenge: How can you share God’s love with someone today?