One night I had no home. I was cold. I was cramped. It was interesting. I have a home to go to. But this night we wanted to experience homelessness. We dreamed an event to raise awareness about the homelessness in our cities and in our county. So for One Night we invite youth and churches to spend a night without a home; to experience what it is like to have no home. The old adage of being so poor you "don't have a pot to piss in" becomes a reality for many.
The night we planned our event just so happened to fall on the same night that several other events were going on around Lapeer county. Also, at the last minute we had to change venues. But God still moved Twelve people chose to spend One Night homeless. Initially we were discouraged that so few had showed up. We had a band, The Saviors Army (TSA), and a speaker, Junior Ramos of the Few, traveling to minister to our group. I called them to tell them they were not needed, we did not have enough people. Dusty, the lead singer of TSA said,"Are you going to be there?" I said, "Yes." He then said, "Even if you're the only one we are coming anyway." They drove across the whole state just to minister at our little event. All we had to offer them was hot coffee.
We sat around our little bonfire and listened to the band play and to Junior who spoke a beautiful message. Then Justin, one of the band members gave his testimony. When he was younger he had been homeless for 6 months.He lived in a small town here in Michigan where he slept under bridges. He shared how God had brought him out of homelessness and gave him new life. After, Junior spoke again encouraging us that what we were doing mattered. He share a story about a family member that is currently struggling with homelessness. He spoke of the pain of being homeless. And he spoke of how when we are kind to those who are the least of these we are truly showing God's love to the world around us.
Then the night climaxed with Dusty the lead singer speaking to our group of 12. He said, "Yes you are a very small group. But Christ took 12 disciples and turned the world upside down. In the Body of Christ it only takes 1 person used by God to make a difference. You don't have to be the best. You don't have to be the most equipped. You don't have to be the most popular. You simply have to be willing to hold out living water to those who are thirsty around us." That night TSA played a song called Fade. Some of the lyrics say, "Sometimes you feel like you're walking through a desert land. You try to share your water but no one cares. Don't loose your hope, don't let it fade." The song encouraged us to never loose our hope in helping the homeless no matter how small our group or resources.
From the outside it appears that we are providing shelter to the homeless during the cold months. It appears we are helping people to transition out of homelessness. It appears that we are providing job skills, training, and substance abuse counseling. But what we really have to give is living water in a land that is dry and thirsty. This living water will heal. It will rebuild. It will save. This living water is Jesus Christ himself. We do what we do not because we want to give warm shelter to the homeless during the winter. We do what we do because we want to show the love of Jesus Christ. We want to see the lives of the homeless changed so that they never suffer homelessness again.
One Night can make all the all the difference in the world. Won't you give a night or two in order to help spread this living water? You can volunteer here. Also, share this post with your friends and family. Encourage your church to get involved. And always you can support the Refuge here.
Written by: Charla Arnold
Edited by: Andrew Terry
I'm a mother of two teenagers. Married to my awesome husband of 20 years. I don't work. I volunteer. I am a founding member of The Refuge shelter and involved in inspiring projects in my church, and community.