08 Jan 2006

Caring for the Homeless

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A few months ago, a man named Derek contacted our church. Derek attends a Methodist Church and works in Rosslyn. While working in Rosslyn, he had an opportunity to meet and befriend a homeless woman named Chu. Although there are a lot of homeless people who live on the streets of Rosslyn, Chu is very unique because she is from Taiwan. Derek looked up Taiwanese churches in the area and found us. He was looking to help Chu by getting her to go to an organization called Just Neighbor to assess her legal status situation. Because Chu is not fluent in English, Derek asked for our help by providing translation. Morgan and I agreed to translate for Chu, and we went to Rosslyn with Derek to meet with Chu. I was really surprised when I first saw Chu. She was completely differently from what I expected a homeless person to look like. She is 40 years old, keeps herself very clean, speaks very coherently, and is very conscientious not to cause any inconvenience to others. We tried to take her out to eat at restaurants but she refused. However, one thing she loved was the homemade Chinese food that we brought her. She cannot resist homemade food and always accepts them gladly when we bring them! I made several subsequent trips to Rosslyn and got to know Chu better. Chu lives under a staircase on a street in Rosslyn. The cold weather in the winter and the scorching sun in the summer are particularly hard for her, and she typically stays in the nearby office buildings during the day time when the weather gets really brutal.

Despite her situation, Chu has never shown discouragement in any of my encounters with her. She maintains a very cheerful spirit. What touches me the most about Chu is her compassionate heart and her generosity. On several occasions when we brought her food, she shared the food with other homeless people that she knew. She is also very appreciative of the people who show kindness to her and tries to give back when she can. She has given me thank you cards, flowers, and coffee when I visited her.

Pastor Ken, Morgan, and I have been discussing quite extensively on the best ways to help Chu. Unfortunately, our initial attempt to get her legal status through Just Neighbor did not work out because Chu did not feel like she was ready for it. We feel that until Chu feels more comfortable, there are a few things we can do to help her:

Pray for her situation and safety, as it is very dangerous for a woman to be living out on the streets by herself. Also pray for her to open her heart so she will be more willing to accept others’ offers to help, and to have the courage to step out of her comfort zone to try out things that will ultimately improve her situation.

Build up friendships and trust with her – We would like to continue to show Chu that we care and will be there for her whenever she needs us. If you would like to visit Chu and get to know her, please let me know.

Provide a gift card – One practical way for us to help her is to provide her with Safeway gift cards where she can get food when she is hungry. If you feel moved to contribute, please let me know or place your contribution in the collection box in the back of the sanctuary.

I believe the Lord is opening our eyes and stretching our ministry possibilities by placing this very unique opportunity in our church. This is a learning process for all of us in how to minister and love the poor as most of us do not have the opportunities to interact with homeless people. I invite you to join us in this process and be the agents to show Christ’s love to Chu. – Shirley Chan

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