Honored to Help a Homeless Woman

Are you in the mood for a good story?  A true story? 

I took my 3 teenagers to Sal Val Wednesday evening.  We had dentist appointments and pizza night lined up and they wanted to check out a few things and I wanted to find books, of course. (Once I picked up a brass piano light at Sal Val for a few bucks—to the envy of my piano tuner).

Anyway, I got up to the cash register and a woman who looked to be in her 20s appeared beside me—oversized yellow raincoat, jeans 5 sizes too large, and a thin sleeveless shirt under the raincoat.  She was white but her face was beet red from being exposed to the cold.  (It was in the 30s that day here).  She plopped a turtleneck on the counter and said, “I’m cold.  It’s really cold here.”  She pulled out her eyeglass case with quarters inside to pay for her purchase.

“Do you know where I could find a place to stay for the night?” she asked.

 One by one the counter help offered. As they talked, she took off her thin raincoat and proceeded to put the turtleneck on over her sleeveless T shirt, right there at the counter!

 One Sal Val staff said, “York Hospital has a program where they put you up in a hotel for the night if you have nowhere to stay.”

 “I heard Jackson Street,” said another.

 “There’s the rescue mission.”

 There were about 6 people behind the counter, including a manager. 

 “How do I get there?” the young woman asked. “Is there a bus?”

 “No, I don’t think so.”

 So they start giving her directions.

 I said, “Wait a minute.  This is Salvation Army and you are going to give her directions to the York Hospital and send her out in the cold to walk there?  For miles?”

 “I’m sorry ma’am, we are just a store.  She’d have to go to the King Street Office and . . .”

 “When does your office close?” I asked.

 He looked sheepish.  “Uh, in a few minutes.”

 I said, “Listen, I know that you are doing your best as a store.  But the heart of Salvation Army is to help people in need.  At least you can make a phone call and arrange transportation for her?”

 “Um, sorry, we can’t take her anywhere.”

 “Just make a call?  Put her on a bus going that way?  Something?”

 The woman behind the counter said, “I’m a pastor’s wife.  I should know these things and where to send people like this.”

I smiled.  “Yes, I’m a pastor’s daughter and I should know where to send people, too.  The last time I did this I picked someone up outside your store and took them to Memorial Hospital.” (another story)

 The homeless woman said, “Hey, I’m a pastor’s daughter, too.”

 You should’ve seen the heads turn!  I said, “OK, Honey.  What’s your name?”

 “Jackie.”  (Not her real name).

I introduced myself and said, “Come with me.  I’ll take you to York Hospital.  All of us pastor’s wives and pastors kids have to stick together.” We said goodbye to the Sal Val folks, I introduced her to my kiddos in the van, and off we went. 

 In the van I asked, “How long has it been since you called your parents?”

 “Uh, a few days.”

 I gave her my cell phone and told her to call them. Her dad pastors a church in Colorado.  She was so sweet on the phone and talked about Jesus.  Her parents were worried of course, but she was in her 20’s and really out on her own.  Nothing they could do to stop her.

 Crazy story, eh?  York Hospital had no such program and she’d have walked miles for nothing.  I finally found a good Christian women’s shelter on Jackson Street (someone at Sal Val had that right) and took her there. 

 She told me on the way that she seriously backslid for quite a while but repented one day when she’d cried out to God, opened her Bible, and saw John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoeverSalvation believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

It always comes back to the cross, doesn’t it?

I called her parents later that night (after pizza, at the dentist’s office) and her dad shared the heartbreaking story behind their daughter’s many bumps in the road.  He and his wife are good people, praying for their child like all of us do.  They were so relieved to hear from her and then to receive my phone call.  I gave them the women’s shelter information, of course.

I was so honored to help a homeless woman Wednesday evening.  I tend to feel stuck in my writing cave while everyone else is out there working with people.  I haven’t gone to Sal Val—I don’t think I’ve been there this year.  It’s always a quirky trip if we go and yet God had this thing planned out that a trucker dropped “Jackie” off near Sal Val and sent her inside.  Just that morning I cried out to him to let me participate a little bit.  I am graced to write and I love it but I get cabin (cave) fever sometimes.   Haha.  God is so GOOD! 

Long story—hopefully it was engaging enough to keep you with me this far.  Thanks so much for listening!

 

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About Lift the Cross of Jesus!

My day job is writing--I'm an author and publisher of a number of books. More on that later. But there is nothing of greater importance to me than the early morning hours I spend with the Creator of the Universe. Although He knows everything there is to know, His greatest delight isn't to give us knowledge, but to give us love. My highest joy is to watch the sun rise with notebook in hand and write the words he speaks to my heart. I want to share some of those words with you here . . . words on the cross.
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5 Responses to Honored to Help a Homeless Woman

  1. Powerful story, Hope. Father, please open our eyes and hearts to the homeless around us.

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  2. jeanoathout says:

    Hope, such and encouraging, uplifting post! Thank you for sharing, and for caring! God bless you, my friend.

    Jean

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  3. Good for you. Glad you took advantage of the opportunity, I had a recent experience with a little different result. http://rebekahtrittipoe.blogspot.com/2013/08/suckered.html

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  4. Marlene and Jean, thanks for chiming in here. Rebekah, I read the blog you posted. I’m so glad you shared your experience. Yes, there are some takers out there.

    As a word of caution to each of us, sometimes it is better to give someone a few dollars and move on. It is so critical to lean on the Holy Spirit–which means listen for God as you walk into one of these “suddenly” encounters. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s great compassion and the heart for “Jackie” and his call/urgency to Sal Val to step up to the plate and be SALVATION ARMY, not a business. I immediately knew I was in the flow and that gave me courage to speak up. In fact, later that evening I called the store and spoke to a manager. I gave her a list of accurate phone numbers and orgs who help the homeless. She promised to have a meeting with her managers and make the information available to all who work behind the register and in the store, so if someone comes in again (and I’m sure they have and they will) Sal Val will be prepared.

    A few weeks ago, I was in Orlando, Florida and three of us had to stop in an empty lot to get our directions straight. A homeless man walked up and wanted money. I had NO idea what to do and whether I should give something to him or not. There was no prompting, no leading, just a feeling of caution. I told him, “Sorry, I can’t help you,” and rolled up my window. My friend gave him money and we rolled up our windows and left.

    Some people choose to live on handouts. Other people fell on hard times and need help. God knows every sparrow, every person. “That which is of the flesh is flesh. That which is of the Spirit is Spirit. As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons (children) of God.”

    The beauty of day to day life, whether we encounter people in need or not, is that we walk with God and we feel (yes, FEEL!) His great love for the people around us. I’ve found that the greatest soul winners are those who look into a person’s eyes and quietly ask God to show them why that person is so special to Him.

    Does anyone else have some wisdom or thoughts to put into this?

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  5. boopiecordy@comcast.net says:

    Heat warming story and very meaningful (especially at this time of year). Love you. MOM

    Like

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