Posted: March 10, 2013 in Compassion

“I have my daughter with me, she’s 7 ½ months pregnant. She’s still in school…” her voice broke as she went on to say “I just haven’t been able to keep my head above water since I lost my house. It went into foreclosure and we lost everything.”

I asked her the usual questions, filling in the fields on the computer screen as we talked. I asked “have you been homeless in the past year?” She humphed as she said, “Yes! I am floating from one couch to another and sometimes sleeping in my car. My daughter, is still in school,” she gasped to catch her breath through the emotion that tried to choke her. “It’s been so hard, really hard! I can’t take care of my daughter and she is going to have a baby!”

Her ex-husband had stopped working and wouldn’t pay any child support. Her health was poor and she couldn’t work herself until the Dr. released her. She has recently recovered from two surgeries and bronchitis. Her income was a paltry 386.00 a month. Her phone was due to be shut off tomorrow. There would be no way to get calls about apartments or Dr appointments. She asked if we could pay her phone bill.

Well, she applied for and received a housing voucher to pay her rent with. She had 30 days to find an apartment with the voucher or it would be given to someone else. In a panic, she asked if I had a list of apartments that accepted her voucher. I did not.

With a less than 1% vacancy rate in our community, finding anything to rent is almost impossible! There are restrictions on the housing that prohibit a roommate situation with the voucher so she is locked into what she feels is a hopeless situation. Tears spilled out onto her cheeks and she dropped her head.

Not wanting her to leave feeling hopeless, we brainstormed a plan of attack for stopping at apartment complexes as she made her way home. We gave her some clothing for both of them and enough hygiene items for a week. Snack food filled the rest of the bags and off they drove to find an apartment.

While we were not able to offer housing to her, we offered some focus. There was time taken to listen, to pray with and to give her some ideas to move toward improvement. As she left, she looked over her shoulder and said, “Thanks for taking time to listen. I really feel like you listened to me! You don’t know how much that means to me!”

I found myself asking why we don’t listen more. Our culture seems so crammed with a rush to something or another that robs us of focus and relationships. I am just as guilty of that as the next guy. This lady’s hope was found in simply stopping for conversation and a full breath of air. She needed someone to invite her to sojourn for a bit and in that, find some focus for her chaotic life.

Building relationships with strangers is not so difficult. Often the relationship is just a few minutes. Other times, it may last a lifetime. To offer hospitality to those in need is to offer the hope of Christ. It builds value and dignity. It pours hope into a life being drained at a rate faster than lungs can fill with air.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” ~Hebrews 13:2


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