My churchÂ teams upÂ with Room at the Inn (RATI)Â and many other churches in the Charlotte areaÂ to provide winterÂ shelter for homeless men, women and children.Â Â My family has been involved in this effort for years.Â WeÂ typically help prepare the food,Â bring in clothes/blankets, clean the area, etc.Â Â These are all essential and vital aspects of the ministry, but in military termsÂ I have to say that these areÂ still REMF-type contributions.Â To be honest, in allÂ the yearsÂ I’d been helping our church host RATIÂ I’d never actuallyÂ seenÂ the homeless folks we purportedly served.Â Â Yesterday afternoon MGoat informed me thatÂ they still needed someone to sign up to drive the vans that would take theÂ homeless folksÂ back toÂ center city CLT at 0530.Â Â That’s how I found myselfÂ southbound on I-77 in the gloom and pouring rainÂ with 5 homeless women I’d never met before.
My radio was on NPR.Â They asked me if I’d mind putting the radio on 100.9.Â I did.Â GospelÂ music poured forthÂ The good Pastor John P. Kee from New Life Church was getting after it, so everyone got in the spirit and I got to join in an outstanding impromptu gospel choir for the next half-hour as we sang, “We gonna make it, anyhow!”
As we drove along, I realized that in 20 minutes these women would spill out of the mini-van into a cold, steady rain with everything they have hanging off their bodies in worn rucks and plastic grocery bags, but right then they were greeting the morning like a chorus of really happy angels!
They thanked God and Jesus for the hot shower they got.Â They thanked Him that someone didÂ laundry for them.Â They thanked Him for the wonderful meals.Â They even thanked me for simply driving them down the highway.Â They kept saying, “Yes Lord!”
When we got to the debarkation point, they all piled out.Â One of my passengers strapped a ruck on her back, three grocery sacks on her arms, several plastic bags on her wrists, and grabbed a roll-along suitcase.Â She also somehow held on to the breakfast plate she’d brought from church, stating, “Cain’t be wasting no groceries!”
Around us other vans were arriving from other churches.Â Men, women and children were disembarking into the cold rain in similar circumstances…. all rucked out with a full load ofÂ burdens physical and otherwise.
I glanced over and saw a mother and child standing there in the rain, rucks on.Â I would say I damn-near cried, but that would be a lie because I damn did cry.Â So I’m writing this simply to encourage all HIM to move to the front lines whenever possible.Â Â It made my day in ways I didn’t expect.Â Aye.