This Sunday at Urban Purpose, Mr. Jim asked me when we got downtown if I would stand next to the food table and watch the line and make sure it went smoothly and that everyone was behaving. This job was new to me even though I’ve been going downtown on Sundays for a year and a half. Usually I try to engage in a conversation as soon as we get there, so just standing and watching was a little different for me. It was awesome to just stand and watch as everyone went through the line and to greet them and welcome them. We see such a diverse group of people every week. Today there was a young family there with some little kids, some elderly people, black people and white people, happy people and sad people, loud people and quite people, people that come every week and first timers. What a blessing and a privilege it is for us to be able to spend time with all these people and serve them and hopefully show them God’s love for an hour or so.
When everyone had been through the line, I went and talked with a man that I had met previously. We chatted about jobs, the summer, sports, the weather, and me going to college. It was really good to get to catch up with him. As we were finishing up, another man who I know from downtown walked past. He is a pretty quiet guy and I believe he has a slight mental disability, but I know him and he knows me so we talk sometimes. Anyways, as he was walking past, we exchanged a, “See ya!” and a, “Have a good week!” As he kept walking down the sidewalk, some other guys from our group also told him, “see ya” and to have a good week. I know it may not seem like much to most of us, but it occurred to me that for this man, those may be some of the friendliest words he hears all week. So many of the people downtown are alone and struggling in addiction and sin, but God in His goodness can use us to speak kind words to the lonely, help the hurting, and befriend the friendless. Going downtown and spending time with the poor and hurting of our city is such a reminder of how God loves us, and that when we were alone and stuck in sin and hurting, He gave us His only Son so that we could have a relationship with Him. We, just like the people downtown, are completely lost and hopeless without Jesus Christ. But because of Jesus, we have a message of hope for each other, for the people of Birmingham, and for the whole world.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve been going downtown with UP for a year and a half, and I’ll be leaving for college in a few weeks. God has used UP to push me and stretch me in my walk with Him through meeting new people and providing me with chances to share the Gospel. Spending time with my brothers and sisters in Christ and the needy of Birmingham is truly a blessing to me every week, and I plan on coming back as often as I can.