God’s People at Work: Connecting With the Homeless
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith…
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)
“In May of 2009,” says Dorcas Sherman (MZ), “I attended a banquet at the former Grace United Methodist Church in Carlisle. It was held to help educate people about Carlisle C.A.R.E.S. They also wanted to recognize and thank those who had contributed both money and time to help make this newly formed program a success.” People in the area were noticing an increase of the homeless trying to find shelter in all kinds of weather – more than they ever saw before. Some talked about what to do and how to help before coming up with a few positive suggestions. Dorcas continues, “C.A.R.E.S. had its roots from Grace (now Carlisle United Methodist Church). Members of the church and the community were noticing how frequently homeless people were sitting on and lying down on their church steps. It seems there were members of Grace who felt that God had placed this problem on their hearts. It was theirs to come up with a solution. The C.A.R.E.S. program of today is the result of the hard work of all those who cared enough to do something about the homeless in our community.”
It seems homelessness weighed heavily on Dorcas’ heart as well. “A short time after that dinner, I attended an orientation class for volunteers,” she says. “Two weeks later, I spent three nights with a retired, registered nurse. She had been with the program since day 1. She showed me the ropes, answered my questions – watching her interact with people helped greatly. Volunteers shouldn’t ask personal questions of the guests, but instead be ready to listen if they want to talk.”
Dorcas explains, “There are twelve shelter churches in and about Carlisle, one for each month of the year. Guests are welcomed at 9 PM, and are expected to depart at 7 AM (children included). Early on, when I wasn’t as familiar with all the shelter churches and their locations, I arrived at the wrong church. I should have been at St. John’s Episcopal Church on the square. Instead, I went to the First Presbyterian Church. As I stood waiting for the walk signal, I had a fleeting thought of how much I looked like a bag lady. Snow piling up on my head, I was soon part of a group of people all headed to the same place, carrying bags, all looking pretty much alike. Humility promotes unity,” says Dorcas.
“Since that December night, seven years have passed and I’ve learned so much about volunteering. I have so much room for improvement. Following Christ means seeing others through His eyes. He loved the world so much that He was willing to lay down His life for you and me. We must be grateful for our station in life and be willing to go the extra mile to try to help others who are less fortunate to improve their lives,” says Dorcas. “Even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve.” Mark 10:45a (NIV). She continues, “There are so many ways we can serve the Lord; there are no shortages of places we could go in our communities. I’ve never been a part of any organization where people (volunteers) work harder for the success of the program. I may have gone into this venture thinking how much my volunteerism would contribute to the program. In the grand scheme of things, I’m certain I’ve benefitted far more than I’ve contributed. Life is so fragile and unpredictable. As I watch the children of families who are homeless, an Old Danish proverb comes to mind, ‘a rich child often sits on a poor mother’s lap.’”
Thankfully, there are more volunteers like Dorcas who take her view of service to others. However, unfortunately, many more volunteers are needed to keep the program running smoothly. Whether it is volunteering to stay overnight on the floor of a local church or serving the poor and needy in some other manner, everyone is needed. We must just be willing to look around us to see the opportunities God gives us to serve and be willing to do the job.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)