The other day we had a knock on the office door at Impact! Church. I opened it to find a young African-American man in his early 20s standing there. As he began to talk I realized he was developmentally challenged. In quiet tones he asked if the pastor might have a moment to talk with him. I told him I was the pastor and would love to talk to him. He explained that he didn’t want to take up my time and that he was not looking for a hand out – but he heard we were a church and we might be able to help guide him to a place where he could get help. I sensed a real humbleness in the man – not someone that was dry begging – but someone that truly just wanted guidance.
He told me that he and his mother lived a block away (they have no vehicle so he walked) and that they were having trouble making ends meet. She was almost 70-years-old and on Social Security. He was mentally challenged and on disability. Recently our local electric company raised the price of their service – and now this family couldn’t afford rent, electricity and food on a very limited income. They chose to pay for rent and electricity – and now had no food in the house. He wanted to know if there were any local programs he and his mother could get on to help with a box or two of food each month. At this point he had teared up and his voice began to break. His head was bowed and he wouldn’t look me in the eye. I had seen this look before – it was look of shame. The shame of not being able to afford basic necessities in life. The shame of having to ask for help. The shame of feeling unworthy. The shame of feeling like a failure. I told him I knew exactly where he could get some help if he would follow me.
I led him into a another room at Impact! Church – one filled with donated clothes, toiletry items and food. I grabbed an empty banana box and began to load it with canned goods, bread, seasonings, frozen meat and dairy products. It was overflowing with enough food for two folks to live on for two weeks. I handed it to him and told him to please come back every week for another box of food. Then it happened – he lifted up his head, he looked at the box of food, his eyes widen and he smiled. He smiled a HUGE smile. He smiled a smile that lit up the room. He smiled a smile that just made you feel good all over. He smiled a smile I would have knocked down walls or walked through deserts to see again. He smiled a smile that only the moving of God could put on person’s face.
Moments later I was the one beginning to tear up as I sat in my office thanking God. Thanking God for an amazing church full of great leaders and volunteers. Thanking God for the calling that brought us to “the hood”. Thanking God that we have the privilege of helping and serving others in His name. Thanking God for all of the generous people that support Impact! Church with finances, resources and donations. Thanking God for the simple joy of seeing someone smile.