12 April 2011

Room at the Inn

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

*I want you to know that my intentions with this post is not to showcase what I did and I am not at all seeking praise. Instead, this post is about what God did and how he radically transformed my heart in one single, cold night.*

I wanted to share an experience with you that I had this winter. As the weather is starting to warm up, it's easy to forget how bitterly cold the winter can be. Now think back to the time you were the coldest this winter. Maybe you were walking to your car. Or getting the mail. Running an errand. Practically running to make it inside to the warmth.

Now imagine there is no inside for you. That the cold you felt was your reality for the winter. Imagine you have no home, no heater, no fire to keep you warm.

My life after high school has been one college town after another. This space between college life and the city scene. I have found that college towns are places where the impoverished and the privileged  often collide.

My usual response when seeing a homeless person:

Please don’t talk to me

Please don’t ask for money

Please don’t look at me

I’m afraid


This winter, during the coldest months of the year, a local church unconditionally opened its doors as a shelter for the homeless. Our town has very few resources for our homeless community, and the resources we do have are very restricted. Criminal record? High? Then there’s no room at the inn.

The shelter was staffed by volunteers who worked in shifts. Kyle and I (along with a few others from our small group) volunteered to take a few shifts over the course of a few days. The first night I went alone. I met the volunteer coordinator and was asked to just sit with the guests, mostly homeless men, and interact with them before lights out.

I was afraid.

I was scared for what they would tell me or ask me. I was scared that I wouldn’t know what to say.

You know what they did? They taught me how to play cards.

God tore down some walls that night and softened my heart over games of spades.


The next night, Kyle and I went to volunteer at the early shift, 8-midnight. I played lots more games of spades.

One gentleman started preaching the gospel to any of us who would listen. I wouldn’t say that I agreed with everything, but something he said really struck me.

He talked about how God doesn’t want us to be afraid. That God can take away fear. That fear is the devil’s work.

God provides safety, and in Him we don’t need to be afraid of the unknown.

As I sat there listening to him, it hit me. What I was afraid of was him, a homeless man, someone that I pass on the street daily, looking at my feet so I don’t have to acknowledge him. But there he was telling me that God wanted to take my fear away.

11:30pm turned into 11:45pm turned into 12:30am and no one came to take over our shift. Everyone else that was with us on the 8-midnight had left for the night. The volunteer coordinator asked if we could stay.

He didn’t need us to really help. He just needed us here in case of an emergency.

In fact, why didn’t we go into the gym and grab a cot and just sleep here tonight?

In that dark gymnasium, we pulled out two cots, grabbed blankets, and snuggled in for the night.

It wasn’t enough for God to just take away my fear of the homeless community. No, that night he wanted me to live their life with them so that I could live my life for them in the morning.

I don’t think I have ever been so radically changed.

That night, among the snoring and the sleeping, I heard God.



  1. Wow! This was a fantastic post!

    God has such a way of breaking down the walls of our hearts and helping us love people more!!

  2. God Bless You your thoughts were so clear and I am so glad to read a post where you shared your heart

  3. Tears. That was beautiful. You are the second person this week that wrote about just let God do the work and not to be afraid and He will show you how wonderful people can be. God is Love. We need more of this in the world. I need to be more of this. Thank you for sharing your heart. God Bless and keep it up.

  4. That was beautiful, thanks for sharing! PS Your favorite Mother-in-Law told me about it :)

  5. So amazing what God did in and through you - don't you just love it? I'm so thankful you were a blessing to the men - you've inspired me.

    Mary @ Redo101.blogspot.com

  6. Reading this actually gave me goosebumps. It's lovely that this had such a huge impact on your life.


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