May 1, 2019 - Chet Dombrowski
Recently, on a Monday afternoon in December, I helped prepare meals in our Pendleton Church kitchen. The task completed, we packed our cars and left for downtown Buffalo to put the meals into the hands of the homeless. I had previously participated in another homeless ministry and was anxious to do so again. So this should be easy, or so I thought.
Upon reaching our destination, the scene was familiar, so setting up and beginning the distribution went very routinely. What followed was not. The emotions I began to feel hit hard and fast. I was once again caught up in the emotions and hurt I saw in the faces of those I was serving; sadness, embarrassment, anger, indignation, occasionally real gratitude; but what impacted me most was the expressionless look of apathy and hopelessness.
The evening came to an end, and we headed home, full of emotion. There was, of course, a sense of satisfaction for bringing these people help relieving their loneliness, and hunger, but there was also an overwhelming sense of guilt for the shallowness of gratitude I had offered for my many blessings. Yes, I thanked God daily, but it had become routine and ritualistic. I know it had to become more, but what? How?
I began to seek God more diligently. I started with prayer; confessing, asking God for forgiveness, and His direction. Then I waited. The answers did not come by email or by burning bush. However, I began to feel an urging to do more for the homeless and those in need. But how? More prayer? Amazingly, more and more opportunities to help people in need began to come to me. God was answering my prayers.
Through feeding the homeless, I began to feel a deeper sense of gratitude, purpose, and fulfillment.
In hindsight, it should not have been a complete surprise that God would want to use me to serve on the streets. I have a great deal of empathy for the homeless. You see, I was once one of them.
For our next time out serving the homeless and hungry on the street downtown Buffalo, we are looking for donations of spaghetti sauce, frozen meatballs, brownie mix, bread, and butter. Donations, labeled and dropped off in the food donation collection center, need to be at church by Friday, May,11. Prayers are always welcomed too!
Want to help prepare and serve? Come to the PCUMC kitchen at 3:00 PM on Monday, May 13. Help is needed to prep and package meals. We leave the church at 6:15 PM to go downtown to serve meals. Dress warmly if you're planning on coming out! We will also need help to clean up the kitchen.