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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Personal Testimony

Several years ago I read a book that impacted my life. The Same Different as Me is a true story by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Hall is a wealthy art dealer in Fort Worth and Moore is a homeless man who relocated from Louisiana to Fort Worth- their lives became intertwined by the will of God as He moved in the heart of Deborah Hall, Ron's wife, and the two of them began serving in "soup kitchen" program in Fort Worth. The Halls developed a personal friendship with Denver Moore that changed all of their lives.

I know that God guided me to Foundation and almost 2 years later placed me in the middle of "Feed My Sheep," a type of ministry that reading The Same Different as Me had sparked a passion in my heart for. Now that I have actually been blessed to be a part of Feed My Sheep, that passion has only grown.

Working with Feed My Sheep has changed the way I think, and the way I live my life. Rainy days now don't just move my heart to praise God for the moisture; I am also moved to pray for a dry spot for shelter. A thunderstorm in the middle of the night wakes me up and prompts me to pray for safety. The long hot days of summer bring prayers for plenty of water. Bitter cold nights cause my heart to plead for people to find their way to the warming shelters. Missing faces give me cause to worry, while someone returning brings relief to my soul!

As my husband, Cody, and I have served in this ministry over the last 11 months, these people have become more than just "the homeless and the hungry" in my eyes. They have become the faces of people I love, and pray for; faces of people who are citizens in my community. They are each created by God in His image.

My passion for this ministry has spread throughout my entire family and often the whole "Crittenden Clan" shows up to volunteer at the FMS center. I love watching the interaction between our grandchildren and all of the people coming through the line. Our granddaughter, Aubrey, is two and has already developed a special way of loving the people at the center. Recently, I was sitting outside with both of the grandbabies. I was wrestling my 7 month old grandson, Hudson, and watching Aubrey as she played chase and sang songs with the other volunteers and some of the people just standing around the building. As one man was leaving, he pinched Hudson's cheek, but walked past Aubrey without saying a word. Being a normal two year old, she felt slighted and the look on her face made my heart ache, but I watched as she took off after the man and caught his attention by grabbing his pant leg and yelling "Hey!" As he stopped and looked at her, she opened her arms and said, "Hug?" and gave the man a huge bear hug. Watching that interaction brought tears to my eyes... the attention that man gave to Aubrey was so important to her. She did not notice that the clothes he was wearing were filthy and threadbare. She did not care that the hands he hugged her with were calloused and stained with dirt and grime. She did not react to the fact that he did not smell all that great. She reacted to him as a normal 2 year old that has just been overlooked, while her younger cousin received some attention. His acknowledgement of her and her presence made her feel important.

I have heard people say thing like, "We tried to help one of the homeless men, but he didn't want any help. He was happy to be homeless." I think I see this situation a little differently.

I don't think help means change. And I don't think "helping" is equal to "improving". I think helping is meeting them where they are, as they are. Many of them have served in our armed forces. Most of them have faced devastating losses in their lives; and several of them have learned to survive despite being mentally ill; I am sure that some are battling demons that I can't begin to imagine. But they are each human beings, and while they do need help, they don't necessarily want to be "cleaned up" to receive it. They live a hard life, whether they have arrived here by consequences of their own decisions, or whether they are here because of circumstances beyond their control- I believe that they each deserve love and respect. I think "helping" is seeing them through the eyes of my 2 year old granddaughter- without judgment or pre-conceived opinions.

They mean something to me. They mean something to my family. And they mean something to the body of Christ at Foundation United Methodist Church.

Saturday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m., our Men's Ministry will be hosting a Chili Cook Off. Donations will be accepted with all of the proceeds going to help offset the monthly food cost for "Feed My Sheep." At this time Foundation provides each person a "hot" lunch and a "take home" bag meal. We try to keep the hot lunch cost under $3 per person, and the take home bag usually is about $1 per person. On average there are close to 100 people who come to the Center everyday for a meal.

The following video consists of photographs taken over the last couple of months at the center in Temple. These are some of the faces of the people that Foundation is providing meals for each month. These are the faces of some of the people in our community that I have grown to love. These are the faces of the people that come to the Salvation Army Center in Temple for "Feed My Sheep."


Marleea Crittenden

Copy of Foundation Feed My Sheep