One Homeless Night 2009 Testimony
I cannot tell you how mind-blowing this event was; our experience was not able to be completely representative of an actual night of being homeless — although it was definitely outside our “comfort level”, it was a “glorified homeless experience”…
Upon check in, we received a slate of cardboard to sleep on and were allowed to pick a plot to occupy for the night.
At first there was an opening show with an MC, testimonies, greetings from the Staff and Presidents of the OURM, as well as the residents, then a small concert from a Christian band (I only hoped the city could hear the worship), and finally a movie about a homeless family (“Homeless to Harvard”…VERY touching).
Then it was time for “bed”…we all went to our plots to sleep and after a brief time of fellowship, exhaustion from the day settled in and we prepared for sleep. However, the city was indifferent — the noise never ceased; from car alarms, police and ambulance sirens, to innumerous voices and conversations (not to mention the continuous traffic), sleep seemed impossible.
Miraculously, I did however fall asleep for a short time before I was rudely awakened by a police car speeding down one of the side streets. Additionally, my awakening was accompanied by a sharp pain in my neck, literally, and a degree of panicked anxiety as I reached out to make sure my purse was still where I had left it (even though we were in a secured location). I felt relief that it was and that all of my friends were sleeping all around me. The comfort of knowing where you are, who you are with and the fact that you are safe is often overlooked I quickly realized.
My mind was full of thoughts — how do people do this? How can they close their eyes, rest their heads, obtain peace, in such an open place, with no assurance as of that provided by a door with a lock? For me, I only had this one night, these few remaining hours to endure. I was going home to my warm and clean bed, my home, my things, and my security. The homeless man, woman, child or family has a longer term to endure, with hope as their only way out while the hours and days left are unknown-no luxuries, few if any selections to make and though surrounded by people, often alone and overlooked.
I drifted back to sleep for another short period and again was awakened by sirens, traffic and a man yelling from outside of the fence that enclosed us…this time, with a sore back and increased neck pain. I worried because I needed to use the restroom but hated the idea of going inside the portable restroom again — a luxury to a true transient.
I sat for the last hour listening and watching, not able to sleep and not wanting to — fearful that my body would be met with greater strain.
I just wanted to go home. To shower. To sleep. To never return.
“One Homeless Night” to me was one unforgettable night.
I could go home, but could not forget.
We cannot disillusion ourselves to think that this is not a reality for far too many and forget that people are out there suffering — in this and many other ways.
I grieve this reality.
We cannot be so self-centered to bask in our own comfort.
Praise God that we may never have to experience or encounter this type of lifestyle…but, neither should anyone else — especially not our brothers and sisters. (God, help us to see and value them in this way, I pray).
After that night, that One Homeless Night, I could go home in relief, knowing it is likely that I would never have to return. I had an “escape” from something I knew was a one-night experience for me…BUT, I dare not let it ONLY be that.
Our prosaic approach, is one of great conventionalism- it is to go about our own ways and seek fulfillment of our own needs, goals and desires, second are those of our families and friends — those we know and expect to encounter…often times those we make fair exchanges with and benefit from. We are a selfish breed.
Contemplate for a moment with me, the true definition of “need”…how often we misuse and abuse that word…(God, convict us, I pray).
To traverse this behavior and mindset we must go to the source — asking God to fill our hearts with compassion and love and let that take lead in our lives and hearts to consider others before ourselves. We must search out and find these people — love them, value them and welcome them in, sharing our blessings. We are no more deserving than them to have all that we do indeed have.
The Orlando Union Rescue Mission is a ministry that seeks to help homeless folks find a way out. They make a way. They exist to make a way — Each employee/staff member helps to make a way as an organization — perfectly named the Orlando Union Rescue Mission.
You also have been given a name, the ability and assignment to do the same — to rescue. We are called to care for the homeless, the desolate, the broken, rejected and bruised…what WILL you do? I know, in Christ, there is no limit to what you CAN do…
Please consider supporting the OURM prayerfully and if possible financially and in service when we partner with them in the future.
Please keep this ministry (OURM) and all the homeless in your heart and in your prayers 🙂
Blessings to you all!