A Rising Tide of Volunteers
by Jess Luoma
If the trajectory of the believer is heaven bound, then the life of every pain and every joy is bound for home. Home is the deepest longing of the human heart and love is the life blood we thrive and survive by.
"True love is the burden that will carry me back home, carry me with the memories I have known." -Josh Garrels
This idea of mingling home and love is the essence of our work with those who Jesus would qualify as the "needy, the prisoner, the brokenhearted." It's a straightforward calling for those who have been called home by Love, for the Christian believer. In answering this call, heaven comes to earth and we lock eyes with Perfect Love.
Two things we all share in common with every human: the need for home & the need for love. As a tide of volunteers set out to serve the needy with open hearts and willing hands, they brought this hope to all they encountered.
Each morning we learned from local leaders seasoned in this work. Among them, Paul Abbott, DeAnna Gallagher, Dr. David Thompson, Tou Mua, John Luoma as well as indigenous formerly homeless leaders, Michael Williamson & Ardis Green. *We learned about what homelessness looks like in Redding, how trauma & addiction play a role, what the county and the church are doing in response, the differences in values between economic classes and the difference between a hand up and a hand out, among a handful of topics. We shared stories of those we served, we prayed, we worshipped.
We then set out to prepare healthy lunches and share meals with those living in local encampments. If there's one way to break through perceived barriers, it's through sharing a meal. From there, we set out to accomplish one thing: build relationship. Though we desperately wish we could provide a physical home to each person living in a tent, we know that through relationship we can at least begin to provide the home of friendship, love and community. These are the relationships that drive us to see micro shelter communities become a reality.
Some of the stories that emerged from our week of service brought me to tears. One particular story stands out. A woman who was spending time with Paul, kept tilting her head to the side. While I chalked her condition up to drug use or mental impairment, Paul saw as an opportunity for understanding. She revealed that the nagging sensation was actually a bug lodged in her ear. Paul prayed over her and the bug instantly fell out. As you can see below, this was no small insect! Her smile shows such relief-- these are the moments we show up for!
Day in and day out, we watched God care for His people in specific tangible ways. We built showers and bathrooms, hauled trash, cleaned clothes, gave baths, sang songs, bought clothes and tents, moved the needle forward through social services, laughed, shared stories and so much more.
One woman we met told us she was going to be getting married that week, so we bought her a dress and made her feel beautiful for her special day. Another man was in desperate need for new shoes. He insisted in getting a pair of hand me downs, but we bought him a brand new pair. He couldn't remember the last time he owned a brand new pair of shoes.
What stands out to me is that it's the seemingly insignificant acts that mean so much to those who have so little. They are small acts that answer a large question for most: does anyone care for me? As the tide of volunteers continues to rise, we can truly begin to demonstrate the answer to that question: a resounding YES! And in so, we are collectively experiencing what we all long for: home & love.
Watch the video below to see a handful of moments captured during our week of service. Onward!
*If you'd like to know more about any of the topics mentioned above, please contact us.