A friend of mine, and one of our ministry leaders, named Perry Shankle was at a Christian event last week and he was wearing his River City Community Church sportsman's shirt. The speaker saw Perry's shirt and commented about how River City Community Church "get's it." Perry was curious as to how this man knew about River City.
The speaker was Gavin Rodgers and, last year, he gave up his home for lent. That's right, he left his home and lived homeless in San Antonio. Gavin chronicled his experience on a blog called 40daysofhaven.com. He spent significant time at Haven for Hope in San Antonio and ran into some of our regular volunteers there. Below is a section of that blog where he shares about the encounter. Gavin is an awesome brother who did something pretty amazing. And when he took the time to share a word of encouragement with one of our volunteers, he gave us a true gift. I am thankful to Gavin for sharing this story, and I'm even more thankful for the awesome volunteers who made this story happen.
From 40daysofhaven.com ...Usually dinner is simple and you can only get one plate from the churches that provide the meals. However this night was different. Last night, River City Community Church (their website is www.reallife.org <http://www.reallife.org/> … I also like that name!) served us the dinner…and it was amazing. First off, it was the first time in 8 days that I was greeted by the church volunteers in line before we were served and they asked me “What’s your name?” before we were seated. Let me type it again.
They asked me, “What’s your name?”
They cared enough to know my name…some random homeless person needing a place to eat. They cared about the downtrodden, the addicts, the hookers, and the lonely. For a moment, they look past the shaggy hair, torn clothes, and smelly bodies…and they see Jesus Christ.
They didn’t have to ask. All the churches before didn’t find it neccessary to ask that question. I bet they are all great churches…but River City Community Church got it right. They saw the image of God in every single one of us. The humanized homelessness.
It was the first time we also were allowed to have 2nd, 3rds, or even 4ths. They brought that much food! And did not hold back. They had ground beef, white rice, beans, pickles, jalepenos, bread, milk, tea, cheese, and juice. It was a banquet. It was a great banquet.
Last night the dining room had a different feel than the nights before. The residents were laughing, hugging, sharing food, and praying for one another. This might happen quite often here…but it was the first time I experienced that type of spirit in the outdoor shelter.
Maybe it was luck.
Maybe it was the weather.
Maybe is was the 2nds.
Or maybe it was the love River City Church had for everyone regardless of social status…how they dropped their fear of the homeless and saw in us the Image of God.
Maybe it was because they asked, “What’s your name?”