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Every year on October 10, there’s a chance to stop and reflect on the needs and struggles of our hurting community. To recognize that there are people out there that are often living completely different lives than us - often so different that we look down on them or worse, don’t recognize them as another person God loves, just as He loves us. This was my first experience working on World Homeless Day with UGM and it changed me.

 

“You are not alone.

We care. There is hope.”

 

This year, UGM staff and volunteers went downtown Spokane with the goal of raising awareness, providing supplies for those living on the streets, and guiding them toward our services. We wanted to connect with people wherever they were at and just tell them, “You are not alone. We care. There is hope.”

Homeless grabbing snacks and coffee

Many came to us in search of something they could call their own. Thanks to many donations and our wonderful volunteers, we were able to create warming bags full of socks, hats, toothbrushes, UGM information cards, and more. These men and women were greeted with a smile, offered hot coffee and snacks, a warming bag, and if they were open to it, we told them about our services we provide at UGM. Some even stuck around a while to mingle with other staff and volunteers!

For those who didn’t come to us, we did our best to go to them. In groups, we packed totes full of warming bags and walked the streets of downtown. There were a variety of people we encountered, ranging from 18 years old to 50+ years old. Some were alone. Some were in a group. Some looked like they’d been living this way for many years. Others looked fairly new to the experience.

 

“We prayed over them both, speaking “worth” into their lives.”

 

One of the interactions that has stuck with me was with two young adults: a 24 year old girl and an 18 year old guy (who was asleep). My group quickly offered her a warming bag and she gladly accepted. She told us a little about them and how they had gone to other shelters previously but never to UGM. We prayed over them both, speaking “worth” into their lives. As we went to leave, she quietly told us, “Thank you”, as a tear bubbled in her hope-lost eyes.

Talking-to-girl

Maybe that interaction stuck with me because I could see myself in her place. Being a similar age, I understand the struggles they may be facing in the world today – housing, inflation, jobs, relationships. It is hard!

I don’t know anything about their story except a small speck of it. I don’t know why they are living in the park or what may have brought them to this point in life. Maybe they were just handed a bad set of cards; I can only guess and imagine.

The Holy Spirit touched my heart so deeply in the moment talking with her. My soul was instantly filled with compassion. I walked up to them with a judgement in my heart and my shields up, but God broke that down and showed me that they are just like us. Broken. Sinful. Unworthy of the love He has for us. God loves them just as much as He loves me. It was only my judgmental mindset that made me think I was any better than them.

Walking-streets

As we continued walking, we came across a few more individuals. Some were in their right mind, some were not. All of them let us pray over them, many accepted a warming bag, and a few said they would seek out services at UGM.

I believe our community brought a little bit of hope to each individual we encountered that day. As a whole, we handed out 200+ warming bags to people on the streets. Even if none of them come to stay or get help at UGM, I know they felt the love of Jesus through every interaction.

It was a great day to remember that we all have our own stories – our own testimonies! I’ve gone through my own trials and tribulations. They may have been in different forms, but they still allow me to testify what God has done in my life. I know that those living on the streets will have their own amazing story to tell one day. I pray God speaks to them when they are ready to receive. He knows when that is. For now, we serve with love, patience, gentleness, and kindness.

 

 

 

Watch a recap of the day!

 

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