We had a good, busy day yes­ter­day. We had a small par­ty for Morgon’s belat­ed birth­day, and had our neigh­bors, Jer­ry and Erika’s fam­i­ly, and Rick and Katie’s fam­i­ly come over to go trick-or-treat­ing in our neigh­bor­hood with us and hang out after­ward.

I had to run to the gro­cery store for some let­tuce for sup­per, and was asked by a cheer­ful home­less lady on my way out if she could wash my van win­dows for some change for some­thing to eat. I was in a hur­ry, so I gave her a dol­lar and went on.

As I drove off, I had the thought, “Hey, why don’t you invite her for din­ner?” By the time I had dri­ven the two blocks to our street, I sud­den­ly real­ized that part of me was work­ing real­ly hard to come up with all the rea­sons need­ed to not do some­thing crazy like that; we were busy, had a lot to do to get ready for that evening, etc.

I got home and dropped the let­tuce off, and told Ari what I was think­ing. I asked Mor­gon if he mind­ed hav­ing com­pa­ny come over for his birth­day din­ner, and when he fig­ured out I was talk­ing about a home­less lady, his eyes lit up and he got real excit­ed.

Yeah! That would be great!”

I drove back down to the gro­cery store and quick­ly found the lady, who was still hunt­ing around, spray bot­tle in hand, for win­dow-wash­ing jobs.

You’re back!” She smiled at me.

Yeah, I was think­ing about how you were ask­ing for change for food. My fam­i­ly lives just a cou­ple blocks from here, and my wife and I would be hon­ored if you would come and eat din­ner with us.”

Oh,” she said, stunned. Then, apolo­get­i­cal­ly, “I’m sor­ry, I have a hus­band.”

I grinned at her, “That’s ok, I have a wife.”

But he’d have to come along too.”

That’s ok.”

She seemed gen­uine­ly con­fused at this point.

So you’d take us to your house for sup­per?”

Yep.”

Just for sup­per?”

Yes.”

And then bring us back here?”

Sure, I’d be hap­py to.”

She didn’t seem to know what to do with me. “It’s just that nobody’s ever offered to do that before. Why?”

Well, we’re Chris­tians, but I fig­ure that we can talk about being Chris­tians and chang­ing the world all we want, but unless we’re ready to do some­thing about it, it’s all just talk.”

She nod­ded. “Well, that makes sense. I’ll need to ask my hus­band, though, he’s across the park­ing lot here. You want to just dri­ve over to that laun­dro­mat?”

So I drove over there, watch­ing as she start­ed try­ing to explain to a short, dark-haired man that some crazy young man was invit­ing them to sup­per at his house. He was pret­ty appre­hen­sive, but she seemed to have warmed up to the idea, and coaxed him to come meet me.

I intro­duced myself and invit­ed him per­son­al­ly, and they decid­ed to come with me, though he was still pret­ty reluc­tant. I real­ized it was a mix­ture of dis­trust and embar­rass­ment. They were hard­ly pre­sentable, they said, and I reas­sured them the best I could that we real­ly did want them in our house.

Their names were Bil­ly and Jack­ie. Both in their ear­ly 50’s, I think. She is super friend­ly and loves to chat. As Bil­ly says, “If she’s not talk­ing, there’s usu­al­ly noth­ing to talk about.” He has a braid thread­ed through his ball­cap and kind eyes under­neath his sun­glass­es.

So I took them home, intro­duced them to my fam­i­ly, and we sat down to some deli­cious home­made tacos. We had a great time chat­ting and shar­ing the meal. The boys were very polite, and Ari told me lat­er that they were so excit­ed about the guests com­ing that when they saw me dri­ve up, they moved their plates to the cof­fee table in the liv­ing room to make room.

We got to know each oth­er while we ate, found out where they were liv­ing (in an aban­doned build­ing a few blocks away), what they do in win­ter, how Jackie’s kids were doing, and oth­er sundry top­ics.

Ari served up the home­made black­ber­ry cob­bler she made for Morgon’s birth­day with ice cream for dessert.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had any­thing like this,” Bil­ly said.

They asked me to take them back to the store after the meal, and thanked me over and over. I told them that we had a great time, and I was real­ly glad to meet them.

Well, you cer­tain­ly are a Chris­t­ian,” Jack­ie declared. “Nobody ever does that.”

I looked her and Bil­ly in the eye, “Well, I think that’s a real shame.”

And I do. I’m ashamed it’s tak­en me this long to do it, too. Some­times it can be hard to get stuck at the first word in the label “home­less peo­ple”, and for­get that it’s the sec­ond which is most impor­tant.

What does it cost us? Some com­fort, and the risk of being tak­en advan­tage of. But when you’re talk­ing about homelessness–or some oth­er uncom­fort­able subject–over din­ner, and it’s fac­ing you from across the table, you’ve got to wres­tle with some hard stuff. I think that wrestling is good.

We’re here to show the Love of Jesus to peo­ple, and I saw last night how pow­er­ful that can be. And I think that we as Chris­tians can use a bit more risk and get­ting tak­en advan­tage of.

5 thoughts on “Last night’s dinner guests

  1. That’s a great sto­ry, son! Now that’s real­ly the right trea­sure to be stor­ing up in them as an inher­i­tance!

  2. that’s so awe­some. odd­ly enough, it seems like it’s the wealth­i­er peo­ple who have a hard­er time doing this — at least in my expe­ri­ence. those who can afford it the most have the least inter­est. but that’s just what i’ve seen, i’m sure there are wealthy peo­ple who are big givers. anyway…awesome! i want to do things like this too. i get more checks about it just bc i’m a girl (and usu­al­ly alone when i see some­one) but i have engaged with a few peo­ple before. noth­ing seemed to come of it though. 🙁

  3. @allison — I know of some wealthy peo­ple who seem to put their wealth in it’s prop­er place–as a ser­vant of God.

    George Mac­Don­ald has a cou­ple great quotes on the sub­ject:

    Friends, cast your idol into the fur­nace. Melt your mam­mon down, coin him up, make God’s mon­ey of him, and send him out to do God’s work. Make of him cups to car­ry the gift of God, the water of life, through the world.”

    But for mon­ey and the need of it, there would not be half the friend­ship in the world. It is pow­er­ful for good if divine­ly used. Give it plen­ty of air, and it is sweet as the hawthorn; shut it up, and it cankers and breeds worms.”

    We just need to be look­ing for what God would have us do. I’m try­ing to not ignore or excuse away the uncom­fort­able stuff. I remem­ber that sto­ry of the mis­sion­ary who was asked how he got to the place where God was work­ing might­i­ly through him in his min­istry.

    He returned the ques­tion with anoth­er: “Have you ever been in a restau­rant or store and felt like God want­ed you to go talk to some­body or pray for them?”

    Oh, yeah, I have. Sev­er­al times.” The man replied.

    What did you do?”

    Noth­ing, I was too embar­rassed, it seemed sil­ly.”

    Well, I nev­er ignored that feel­ing.”

  4. We kept in touch with them until we moved out of the area. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, things start­ed to head towards an unhealthy depen­dance on hand­outs, and we’ve had to be care­ful of just what was done or giv­en when request­ed, some­times say­ing ‘no’. We’ve moved a ways away from them about 14 months ago now, and I’ve only talked with Jack­ie a cou­ple of times since.

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