Saturday, June 21, 2008


Every question and fear and objection to working with the poor or homeless that I have heard at my church or from others over the years, every one of those resides in my heart. Last night a homeless couple came to the door. Diane and I had helped them last week, and they were still on the street. I sent them away with a blanket at 10:30, saying "I can't help you right now." But ultimately, I was choosing not to help them, because we had space in our house for them. I was afraid - what if they come back the next night and the next. What if this teaches them to not have boundaries? What are we supposed to do, help everyone who comes to the door? What if they eat our food and we have to buy more? And as I lay back down in bed, I recognized these questions. I have heard them before, and the feeling behind them were very real.

At the same time, I heard the words of Christ - I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was homeless and you did not shelter me. And the reality was, we did have a sofa bed in our living room not being used, and I could not bear the fact that I actually could help them. They had proven themselves trustworthy in the past, and the reality was it was going to cost us very little to give them some simple food and a simple bed. The reality is that every homeless person in Greensboro was not coming to our door - only this couple was. And so they stayed with us.

The reason I tell you this is not to toot my horn. The lack of love in my heart when they came to the door is enough to remind me I don't have much to brag about. Instead, it is to say I am acquainted with struggle and questions, and I can't fault anyone for having them. I wrestled last night. I was angry at being bothered when all I wanted to do was go to sleep.

But I also believe that last night was an opportunity for me and Diane to really live out what we say we believe about the Lord. That He is our provider, that He blesses us to bless others, and that we can take Him at His word. There are plenty of what-ifs that I still have, that will need to be answered tonight, possibly. But I also see that many of my what-ifs complicate the simplicity of the teachings of Christ. Sometimes I think that I make things more complicated because the pointed, clear truths of Jesus make me squirm.


Ashleigh said...

A break in the seriousness: IVP editor Al Hsu just sent me a meme that I am supposed to pass on to seven people, and I have elected you one of the seven! If you have time and care to participate, you may see the instructions, along with my answers over on my blog.

Elana said...

*sigh* i feel you on this entry... thanks for sharing your heart to give them a place to say AND the what-ifs :)

Allen F. said...

Marshall thank you for sharing this, again I feel that one of the things that has let God use you so powerfully and made GUPY such a great program is that you are honest and share your victories and defeats with people openly, and given the credit to God.

You help make ministry to real people move from the realm of "Oh that is what a 'super Christian' does" to the realm of "I can/ should/ want to do that."

Thank you and I thank God for the man and the family he is shaping you and your family into and the support, inspiration, and challenge you have been to so many of us.

Alex said...

great post, bro...thanks for bringing us into the tensions of life in your hood...

Jenny said...

Hey, Marshall. Just checking in.

What a great post; thanks for sharing. It's amazing how we can makes something so simple so difficult. I have felt for a while God calling me to do some ministry in this area. My excuse... my kids. What am I supposed to do with them? I can't just have them hanging around homeless people... can I?