by Nick McMichael, Youth Director
Last semester I was able to help serve at a breakfast ministry every other Wednesday that serves the homeless every morning! Overall, my experience of Our Daily Bread was positive. I broke down many of my own prejudices about our unhoused brothers and sisters, and if nothing else came of this time, then that would be enough. However, I also learned what it looks like when someone is really, truly called by God to act. The volunteers that run this ministry reflect what Howard Thurman says in his book, Disciplines of the Spirit, “Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.” I really think that the men and women that I met at this ministry think that this is THAT important. They show up every single day, other than Saturday, to serve these people. To me that is dedication worthy of the gospel. As a result, I am often left feeling guilty about my own hesitation. These people show up every day and are filled with joy, and I can barely force myself out of bed one day every other week, to get out there and mostly just get in their way. What is it about the work of God that makes many of us so hesitant to volunteer when we claim to be devout followers of Christ?
At Wesley Theological Seminary, where I am a student, I feel there is a misconception that the poorer you are, the more you have figured out life. It is a subtle idolization of poverty that has no biblical grounding. The people at this ministry are just people. I truly cannot stress this enough. The homeless have real issues, and they are not all wise sages who have figured out life. The people who run the ministry are no different. They are all flawed, imperfect, works of God. I can see the Prevenient Grace that John Wesley talks about working in their lives. Some have been saved, and many are still wandering in the proverbial desert.
The wealthiest child in the world who is spoiled rotten is just as messed up as those adults without a home begging for food. They are the same, and I think that it is often too easy to start thinking that they are not. That can look like a shunning of poverty in wealthier communities so that they do not have to deal with it, or a demonizing of the rich to feel better about the state of poverty that the world is often in. Around the Wesley campus, I see more of an idolization of the poor, and an attempt to shame the rich. This breakfast ministry for the physically poor among us has opened my eyes to the absurdity of these claims. “That which you do to the least of these you do for me.”(Matthew 25:40) But who really is the least of these? All of these people, rich and poor, are lowly and broken before God. You and I, and everyone in the world, are all the least of these. That is the great misunderstanding. We should serve everyone, and not just stand around with those that we like better because of their circumstances and talk about how awful others are. We should serve all of these! The least of these. Everyone.