“My name is Jerome. I took a bus to Florida. A church gave me your number. I am homeless. I’ve been sleeping on the streets.” It was 4:43pm. Taking a walk, going to EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival was on our agenda, until Jerome’s call. Surely it was God’s whisper that caused us to remain at home on a glorious Sunday afternoon. Coming from Alabama to help a cousin who took their money for rent, the cousin put their possessions outside the door, then didn’t answer their phone calls. “All I want is to get back to Alabama. My brother says we can stay there,” Jerome, his wife and 10-year old daughter. We retreat to ponder what appropriate action we should take.
We deliver bread to motels. We never have leftover bread. This day, we had a little leftover bread. We didn’t go to EPCOT or take that walk. Because we were at home when the phone rang, we were able to talk to Jerome from Alabama. We wondered what to do on a Sunday. No agencies are open on Sundays. We called a familiar local motel. They had a room. We decided what to do.
All the bread wasn’t given away today. We had a few leftovers. We had put aside a loaf of raisin bread for a woman who makes French toast with it. Someone who must have needed it had taken the raisin bread. Times are tough but we did have a few pieces of bread remaining. Gathering up plastic ware, finding canned food with “pop top” lids, we left for the gas station to meet Jerome and his family to take them to a local motel.
The three of them were sitting on the sidewalk in front of a gas station. We put their few belongings into our car to take them to a motel that would be their home for the next three nights. We gave them telephone numbers for agencies that might be able to help them get to a place that may give them stability, for them and for the 10-year old daughter. What then?
We hope that they were able to make it to a brother’s home. A brother who offered them a place to stay. What now for them? Would you make room for someone you don’t know who needs help?
“I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me. Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’” Matthew 25:42-45, CEB