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.