After saying that we would go through the Lord’s open doors and pass up the doors He chose to close, last month He led us to Atlanta. We weren’t really sure where we were going or what we would be doing, but the favorable hand of God was upon our journey and we knew our obedience and sacrifice would be blessed.
We left Dallas on Friday, the 17th and drove all the way in Atlanta. We knew it would be an interesting 16 hour drive, but it went easily and we spent most of those hours talking about what God had in store.
At 9am Saturday morning, we were supposed to meet a group called Church on the Street for their weekly Saturday outing. Even though we had served in homeless ministry before, the evident need in Downtown Atlanta was overwhelming. Working with the church’s usual crew, we packed up board games, coffee and goodies and went down to Renaissance Park. After cleaning up trash and debris, we settled in to have fellowship with our vulnerable neighbors. It was incredibly touching that they loved on us more than we loved on them… even when we didn’t have food, clothes or shelter to share.
For three hours that day, we made friends and served the downtrodden as if we were communing with Christ. Yeah, that sounds absurd or exaggerated, but the Spirit of God that graced us that morning was unlike anything I’ve found sitting in a church pew.
Sunday morning, we decided to get up very early and make a 4 hour trek to Savannah, trying to get there and attend a random church service before doing a little sightseeing. I know I say this every time I go to a new place, but Savannah was one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. Picnic in a park and an afternoon on Tybee Island was enough to make us feel loved. Funny note was that we found ourselves thanking God for ALL things, both large and small. When we found a parking place or the weather worked out, or not getting lost and being treated to random conversations with strangers… it was all by the hand of God.
Monday found us back with Church on the Street. We had originally thought we would have to just hang out that day since it was a national holiday and many charities were not accepting volunteers. But while we were with them on Saturday, Gary and Andy (the leaders) invited us back to Retreat from the Streets. Each weekday, the little loft at an old church is open and the homeless people are invited to partake in community, fellowship and Bible study. Diving right in to some very difficult passages, I realized quickly that the knowledge of these vulnerable ones would rival my own and might even teach me a thing or two.
Abruptly, Gary stopped the sharing in Bible study to have everyone participate in group prayer. For 45 minutes, we listened to these beautiful people pray for their most basic needs. Each was thankful for a night’s sleep and safety and the sun that they saw shining that morning and the breath that consumed their lungs. While I was contemplating my own problems and my own “needs,” the Lord’s Spirit was showing me just how much I still have to learn.
After that prayer time and fellowship with them, I was transformed. I’m finally able to define priorities. I am able to clearly see the plan and purpose of God, even in the most remote or strange places. Applying what I’ve learned and experienced in my walk with Christ is now an integral part to the growth I expect to see in others. I was bombarded by God’s grace in the most unlikely of places.
After a bit more sightseeing and a little too much comfort food, we were able to volunteer at a pro-life pregnancy center in the suburbs. A childhood friend of Sonja’s has established a small clinic and counseling/resource center to help women in Kennesaw, Georgia. We were asked to sort clothes for infants and toddlers… a job we are quite seasoned at and that we love! I was also able to talk to the founder about the benefits of establishing a charity and by-laws and the step-by-step process I’ve been contemplating for Frisco Reach Out. She was an immense blessing, help and encouragement. Lifelong friends and partners to be sure.
Our last night in Georgia was spent working with the Lazarus Ministries. Each Tuesday night, a group of people from a local church meet up at a hospital/shelter and provide a meal for the women and children who could not fit anywhere else. I came to see exactly how strong these people are. A mother that can still have her children in a shelter and still show them love… she has more determination and heart than I can fathom.
After our experiences, the drive home was filled with sadness and hope. We were so sad that our trip was over, but so hopeful at what the Lord had birthed in our hearts and minds. I’m quite sure that the steps we take forward with what we do in Frisco will forever be impacted by the simple action of serving in Atlanta for 5 days one winter.