The sun was quickly setting on Christmas day as we arrived in downtown. My Daddy's warning from earlier in the day played over again & again in my head:
"Watch your backs & try to get out of there before dark."
East Lancaster Avenue
Fort Worth, Texas
My family piled out of the minivan and we walked over to my sister's family to help them load the cart with the care-packages we had prepared together the night before.
The flashing lights from eight police cars under some bridges helped illuminate the area. There were homeless people lined up & down the street for blocks. We knew right away we didn't have enough bags for everyone. We gave ourselves a quick pep-talk as we looked over our shoulders:
"We can't help them all, but we can help some."
We began walking, repeating over and over to the kids in a whisper, "Stay close. Stay together. Smile."
We extended our arms with care-packages & greeted these strangers on the street with a jolly, "Merry Christmas!"
The word merry felt awkward leaving my lips... almost inappropriate, patronizing, or condescending? (Those aren't the right words, but I don't know how to describe it...)
Most graciously accepted. Yet, surprisingly, there were a few who refused. One person even said, "No, thank you. I have plenty."
Plenty? What? You're sleeping on the street... on Christmas!
I took these pictures as quickly & discreetly as I could with my iPhone. I hesitated to snap more, as I didn't want to make this about us. It was never about the good we were doing.
It was about why we were doing it.
Seeing the shelters full & these people prepare to sleep on the cold, hard, scary street reminded me of how Jesus came to earth on a night when there was no room for them in the inn.
As we walked, Jesus' words in Matthew 25 came to mind: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Days have gone by & I've still been pondering why some would refuse our free gifts on Christmas day, when we could so plainly see their situation & need? Then, it hit me.
Jesus is the gift.
And so many refuse Him! They don't see their need. Or they think they couldn't possibly deserve Him, His love, His gift of forgiveness & eternal life.
I saw & experienced the Gospel story this Christmas in a way I had not previously understood. I know my words here have not done it justice; perhaps I'll make a vlog about it all soon?
I'm incredibly thankful to each of you who donated to Alyssa to help make this possible. She's a kind, generous soul already living out virtues we read in Proverbs 31.
Keep taking those babies to church. Keep telling your children the old, old story, of Jesus & His love. He is the best gift we could ever hope to give them. Walk in His footsteps. Talk about Him daily in your home. Point your children to His example, not your own.
I'm right there with you, Momma - and I can help you document it all with heartfelt photos.
Friendship is the finest balm,