If you read this post on my blog about a year ago, you may remember that our family likes to be prepared to bless the homeless and needy folks we come across. We put together bags of items such as granola bars, fruit snacks, washcloths, and the like and then store them at home (out of the Florida heat) while keeping one in our van at all times. In January of this year, the boys and I took a shopping trip to Big Lots and purchased enough materials to create 11 new bags–blessing bags or needy care bags or bags for the homeless, whatever you call it: The purpose is to connect with another person for a brief moment and provide something tangible to meet real needs.
One bag of goodies probably won’t change the life of a person who feels down and out; but it can fill in some cracks for a little while. Do homeless people have greater needs? Of course, especially that of housing. But whereas my family can’t do much in the short term to ameliorate that need, we CAN provide a little something in the moment.
After giving out plenty of needy care bags–first some that I received for my birthday last year, then more that my boys and I made over the summer of 2015– I wanted what we offered in that sliver of time to have more potential for a lasting impact. Certainly a kind act can be transformative to a person who, in many ways, depends on the mercy of others just for survival. But I wanted to do more than give some stuff and pray with the person, if he or she permitted it (and only if the individual agreed to it AFTER we gave out the bag).
My prayer has become that the homeless folks who receive the blessing bags we hand out from the window of our van will wander into a church one day–that they will meet people who can build relationships with them, help them with job skills or housing or benefits, with counseling or rehab or medical assistance. So, I committed to include a note in each bag with a few words on God’s love and desire for a relationship with that person.
My hope is that those who read the note will ponder God’s care and compassion, His invitation to connect with Him in a love relationship, and the fact that He shows His love through His people. I may speak with Kenny or Ezra for a few minutes out of our entire lives, but if a seed gets planted, God can produce fruit.
After some trial and error, I settled on this paragraph:
Did you know that Jesus was poor? He came from heaven to live a perfect life. He was good in our place. He died for us and returned to life so that we can have real life. He created you to know Him in a love relationship, and He desires for you to give your life to Him and put your faith in Him. We are blessed to be a blessing, and our family wants to bless you today.
Not too long, not too short, easy to read and then toss away. It doesn’t tell everything, but for one interaction, it tells enough. I lead with the fact that Jesus was poor because I want the people receiving these bags to know that Jesus identifies with them. Indeed, He left heaven to become poor on our behalf.
So in case you create your own bags of blessing and want to be intentional to minister by using them, I share this text with you today. May you experience God as you are blessed to be a blessing.