By the time a man reaches the age of 57, he's most likely looking forward to retirement or at least easing back a bit on his workload. But, what happens when this man finds himself laid off from his job, lost within a sea of others who comprise a (now) 30% unemployment rate in our community? He becomes a statistic within the new generation of homeless in our country. A generation that is growing at such a rapid rate that government agencies, faith-based and benevolent groups cannot keep up with.
Meet James. He is not an alcoholic, not an addict, not a felon and does not suffer from mental illness. If he fit into one of these "categories" it might be easier to understand his current situation. James has worked hard his entire life, beginning as a child picking tobacco at the farm where he grew up. As an adult, he worked at one of our local furniture manufacturers, ultimately becoming a supervisor. When that company relocated overseas, James went to work for another manufacturer which, ultimately swept him out with dozens of other workers in one of its many layoffs. That was a year and a half ago.
When his unemployment compensation could no longer keep up with rent, utilities and other basic expenses, James found himself with barely more than the clothes on his back. A local church paid for several nights in one of our low-cost motels which, is where I first met James. The motel manager called my pastor because it was obvious to her that James was in need of assistance. He was not expecting me, so when I met him sitting with his Bible open and TV tuned to a church service, I knew he was not setting a stage for my sake. Rather, he was clinging to his faith while trying to wrap his mind around the circumstances that had now become his life. A life that no longer supports a once hard-working man's basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
So what does the future hold for James? The answer to that monumental question is not clear right now. What is clear though - I AM my brother's keeper and so are you if we are followers of Christ.
When you meet (a) James, and chances are you will, what will you do?
1 John 3:17 "But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him?"
1 John 3:18 "Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions."
1 John 3:19 "Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord."
My Brother’s Keeper Prayer
Lord . . .
When I have food, Help me to remember the hungry.
When I lie in my bed, Help me to remember those who sleep on the floor.
When I have a warm home, Help me to remember the homeless.
When I have work, Help me to remember those without jobs.
When I experience the joy of giving to my children, Help me to remember the agony of those who must watch their children go without.
By remembering, Help me to destroy my indifference and arouse my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to act in your name, to help those who cry out to you for that which I so often take for granted.
(Prayer from www.mybrotherskeeper.org)
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