Generous of Heart

Just the other weekend, I attended a Mennonite church service in Lancaster County, PA. It was a wonderful service and really struck me how generous of heart these people are. Unlike the Amish, the Mennonites do have churches but they are very plain. No statues. No crosses. No stained glass windows. Without the trappings that I so often see in other churches, it’s very easy to focus on the sermon.

Which leads me to the next part of my posting…

Earlier this week, I learned about a college boy from a poor urban city. This boy was abandoned by his parents, thrown out by his foster parents when he hit 18, and is going to college full-time…thanks to financial aid. He’s also working full-time as some entry level position (restaurant? store?).

And he’s homeless.
And there are three more like him at this school. Struggling students, abandoned by their parents. Homeless.

For the entire week, I didn’t know what to do but I kept thinking about this boy. He’s a straight A college student and sleeps in doorways at night. The shelters are full and, as a single young black man, he has no options. The little money that he makes goes toward food and textbooks.

So, I offered to take him into our home. The reaction that I get from people is rather interesting. Some people are appalled. Others are amazed. Yet not one person has offered to help this boy or the other three. Some of the people that I speak to have empty bedrooms in their homes. Others are rather wealthy. Offering to buy train tickets so that they can get back and forth to campus or offering to buy their textbooks is an alternative to housing them. Yet no one has offered.

My husband and I had a long discussion about this. He wasn’t too excited by my invitation to bring this boy into our home (and I don’t know if the boy will accept). But he understands that extending such help is part of my nature. That is one thing he does support. Part of our discussion centered on how other people are NOT willing to extend themselves and, what’s worse, discourage me from doing the same. My response is that I have to live with myself and, while I can’t save the world, I can’t sleep at night knowing that this young man who is working so hard to change his station in life doesn’t have any support system.

We shall see what happens. Perhaps if we can remove the things (not having food, shelter, support) that distract this young man (like the Mennonites removed the statues, crosses, and fancy windows), he will also be able to concentrate and excel at improving his future. I sure hope so.

0 thoughts on “Generous of Heart

  1. A noble thought! Question is, wouldn’t it do better by this young man to teach him how to fish rather than feed him? Perhaps someone should spend a few hours with him, discuss options, introduce him to potential evening job employers who may trade shelter in exchange for a few hours work? Taking him in into a home, away from his regular environment may be a quick fix but could possibly cause serious problem when the time comes to part company, don’t you think?

    1. Totally agree, Ammon. But I consider putting himself through college as being taught how to fish. Education is so important. I don’t know if I’d be as generous if he wasn’t going to school…and getting straight As despite his situation…

  2. Your post is heartwarming. I hope he accepts, and wish there were more like you in this world. Have taken people in at various times, unfortunately, cannot at this time in my life. My Hubby is in late stage Parkinson’s and my Son and his young family fill up the bedrooms…Don’t know what I would do without them, but God provides. God Bless YOU!

  3. I was very impressed with your story of the young man to whom you’ve offered a place to stay while attending college. Have often thought of doing something similar. My church has a program for homeless high school students and I’ve been thinking about it. Now I need to prayers to those thoughts! Not sure what my kids will say if I do offer to take in someone; but, as you said, we have to live with ourselves and be able to sleep at night knowing we’ve done the right thing. God bless you for your giving and faithful heart!

    1. Hi Mary,
      It wasn’t an easy decision for me. Last year, another student lost his mother. It was just the young man and his little sister. I wanted to make the same offer but didn’t. It has haunted me. So, when the chance came along again, I didn’t really have to think twice about it. Luckily for me and my family, the young man is remarkable. If he was under 18, I’d adopt him tomorrow. He just took my 14 year old to play basketball in the dark, shining my car lights on the court (just down the block). He is funny, kind, and helpful. But you have to be careful. You never know what trauma these children (or young men/women) have been through. I literally cried the first night he was here…partially because I felt such relief that he was safe and partially because I worried about the impact on my family. Thanks to God that it has been a rewarding and life-changing experience!!! For all of us!

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