Loving the Poor
This week our blog is from Matthias Weber, a man of wisdom and compassion and a great friend of TSM. Enjoy!
Working with the homeless has changed my life. I thought it was just about giving to God but learned that he gives me more in return.
I came to Bedford to do TSM and to work for Kings Arms Project, an amazing ministry with the homeless and displaced. Right from the start when I was interviewed, I got introduced to the vision which stems from two Bible passages. One is Isaiah 61: 1-4 where it talks about the poor becoming ‘oaks of righteousness’, an amazing promise we live with. The other passage is Isaiah 58:6-9 where God promises those who serve the poor that ‘their own healing will quickly appear’. I remember thinking,”These guys really believe this”.
I had no idea what homeless people are like; I had never engaged with them before I started working here. I was quite scared to start with, but quickly realised they are just people. They like having a laugh, being in community and are looking for happiness in life, just like the rest of us.
At first I started work at the Nightshelter and found out there were quite a lot of rules for the service users. Generally the homeless have only got few options in life which can cause a lot of anger and frustration in them. I served as well as I could, but remember being criticised by a resident after I worked hard all night cleaning and cooking a lovely meal. He also implied that I needed him so I could get a salary, even though I had given up a well-paid job to work one year for free. Such things really tested my faith!
At our staff training I learnt a phrase that stuck with me: “Don’t we sometimes treat God just the same?” We think we know how things are and what He should give us and moan at Him even though He lovingly provides everything we need. That question really changed me. It confronted me with my own brokenness. I realised that I needed God’s grace as much as the ‘worst sinners’ do.
In this time I also learned another helpful piece of wisdom: “Everybody has a story”. Especially when I was struggling with having compassion for someone, it often changed when I heard their story. I heard so many heart-breaking stories of such tragic circumstances often even right from childhood. I realised that nobody chooses to become an annoying person with an out-of-control lifestyle. It is the outcome of a life without security, positive role-models or encouragement. Obviously, it doesn’t excuse wrong behaviour, but listening to them helped me to understand and have patience.
I realised it all boils down to a lack of love in a person’s life. It dawned on me what a privilege it was to have had an upbringing with parents who cared about me. It was God’s grace towards me.
What we all need is to be loved by a father and mother. We need a loving Father who gives us that security, belief and encouragement. We need love that accepts us as we are but helps us to become who we are meant to be. That sounds a lot like the Gospel to me. It is why we ‘proclaim good news to the poor’.
God has been true to his word in my life: As I have served him in the work with the poor ‘my own healing appeared’ more and more.