I’ve started thinking a lot about the role of hospitality in the life of the church. I think it’s an important theme for every church in a city like Los Angeles to talk about and to pray about. I think it’s very gospel-centered and fits well into anything and everything pertaining to God’s mission in the world.
There is a sweet couple who I’ve recently gotten to know at the church. Well, they’re not really part of the church. Not yet at least. They recently became homeless. We’ve been spending some time together of late. They have a sweet spirit and are very humble people.
Yesterday, I took them over to the department of social services to help them begin the process of getting public assistance. I’ve made several phone calls to agencies or shelters, trying to find a place for these friends to stay. I’ve found nothing yet. Some of the people I’ve talked to at these agencies are amazing and they’ve been very helpful. Some haven’t called me back. The agencies are in an awkward space right now. There’s really nothing out there for a couple like this. Shelters are full. There are waiting lists. The waiting lists have waiting lists. The reality is that if you’re homeless in the city of Los Angeles, it’s really tough to find anything right now that is available.
As I was leaving the church, one of them offered me something to eat. He wanted to go down the street and grab some frozen burritos from Trader Joes. I know he doesn’t have much money. I also said, “I was alright.” He said, “What kind do you want? They’re really good.”
I said, “how about chicken?” He said, “I’ll be right back.”
I couldn’t say no.
As we sat in the church kitchen, he put each of the burritos in the microwave. I went and packed up my bag and started locking things up for the day. As he made his way down the hall, with his wife, he handed me a burrito on a paper plate. I told him, I would eat it on the road. He smiled and I said goodbye and watched them both leave the church building, as I locked up.
As I drove off, I realized I forgot something in my office. I drove back, got out of my car, ran into my office, and there they were eating their frozen burritos, sitting outside, in front of the church. My heart aches still for them. I know there are tons of other people in the city looking for shelter. I know social workers, agencies, case managers, and volunteers are doing their best in helping others get connected to resources available for those experiencing homelessness. I don’t know what’s going to happen to these friends. I’m praying and I’m hopeful that they will find something and soon.
All I know is that my heart was ministered to and the chicken burrito I ate on the road while I was driving home, tasted like a thick juicy steak, made with love.
More to come.