My son is obsessed with Band-Aids. Last week, his grandma got him a box of “emoji” print “stickers” (as he likes to call them) that he can’t keep his hands off of. It is not uncommon to see him obliviously running around with a silly “poop emoji” Band-Aid on his forehead because it was the only thing that could treat an itch; it’s endearing. A couple of years ago, my son EJ had a wound so deep that we had to go to the ER to get stitches. It was one of the most traumatic moments for this new momma as her two-year-old had to get eleven stitches under his eye. Unfortunately, no Band-Aid would have healed his gaping wound and we had to bring in other medical professionals to truly help him heal. To give EJ a Band-Aid that day, would have only treated a symptom, the bleeding, opposed to starting the process of sewing the wound shut for good.
Often times, we look at our neighbors experiencing homelessness with a lens of suspicion and we treat their issues with Band-Aid’s. Often we lose sight of the deeper wounds that may have compounded to cause their housing instability. Undisclosed mental health issues, complex family systems, abuse, neglect, trauma and addiction are often underlying factors for people who are experiencing homelessness. No two stories are the same, but each deserve our time and attention like medical professionals called to the scene. We come bringing our own gifts, networks, and experiences to help care for our neighbors complete recovery. That happens by not simply treating a symptom, like hunger, but really hearing their stories at the table and supporting the healing of the whole person, not just a part.
In the biblical parable of the “prodigal son” Jesus tells the story of an entitled heir who takes his inheritance and squanders it on his impulses. The beautiful part of this story is that the father does not cap the inheritance that he has for his children, even for the son who squanders it all away. Instead, he celebrates his sons homecoming, with open arms and gives him his best robe, throws a party and shouts, “Welcome Home! We have been waiting for your return.”
Our Micah Furniture Bank is a homecoming ministry. It is the place where donors and volunteers come together to collect treasures for our neighbors who are finally homeward bound. There is no cost for picking out thei own home essentials. We provide “welcome home” baskets and a soft place to finally lay their heads. It is a beautiful ministry to be a part of because you get to see the “happy ending” in the lives of our those who are finally getting a place to live again, sometimes after a very long time away.
There is a need right now for groups and individuals who are able to help our neighbors move in to their new spaces. Whether you enjoy decluttering and organization or have a pick up truck for donations, we need your help! Feeling like you’re missing the gym? Come get a (free) cross-fit workout when you volunteer to help do the heavy lifting for some pick-ups and move-ins! This ministry is about caring for our neighbors in a way that resembles the Father’s open arms for us, waiting for us to be welcomed back to where we always belonged.
While going home appears to be an ending to the story of homelessness, it is actually another beginning. It’s a journey to truly starting the healing process from the trauma that comes from living outside. While transactional love is needed, it is short-lived and often treats merely a symptom to larger issues. Transformational love, however, happens when we open ourselves up to really be part of our neighbors lives and hear our neighbors stories–both the memories filled with joy and the ones that break our hearts. It occurs when we walk alongside them, helping them to process and carry the heavy loads of their past and present. It means showing up when others have left and abandoned them. It’s opening the door for trust and allowing the work of reconciliation to free their hearts from the chains of their past mistakes. Lifting the load is more than showing up to be a laborer at a move in. It is allowing them to unpack their baggage. Baggage that they have been carrying around with them for many years, so that they can finally start to heal and find their way back home, right where they belong.
The furniture bank repurposes donated furniture into the homes of people moving out of shelter and off the street. We are working very hard over these next few months to minimize the number of people who return to the street after receiving temporary shelter during CoVid-19. Furniture, household items and volunteers to help move people in are a key part of what will make the re-housing process possible. Most needed items include beds, dressers, kitchen tables/chairs, end tables, sofa/loveseats. Volunteers are needed deliver/pick up items and help organize the warehouse. Socially distanced, minimal contact options are available.
To volunteer, contact
Community Engagement Chaplain