Dublin Christian Mission's
I'll begin by telling you about the volunteers at The Lighthouse. It's so fun working alongside such a variety of people everyday. I've experienced quite a myriad of different nationalities while ministering here. There are Americans, Irish nationals, Polish immigrants, English laborers, and even two volunteers from Spain and Malaysia! Some are born-again believers, while a few are still discovering Jesus Christ. I feel very privileged that the Lord brought this quirky group of nationalities and backgrounds together in order to serve the homeless of Dublin in His name. I've loved hearing people's testimonies and stories of how they ended up in Dublin and helping at DCM. It's really quite remarkable to think about God choosing us all to be here together. I pray that I will continue to build relationships with the volunteers and be a Godly encouragement to everyone I come in contact with. It's an unbelievable amount of hard work that is put into these meals for the homeless, so I can't express how much admiration I have for those who willingly give of their time weekly to come and serve.
Working with the homeless has been so eye-opening for me. I have a lot I want to say, but I really feel I'm not in a place yet where I have worked through all my emotions in order to explain all God's putting on my heart. So I'll tell you a story of one really wonderful encounter I've had with a homeless man. On Thursday nights, some DCM volunteers head over to another street in Dublin to help another homeless ministry run by Tiglin Residential Treatment Centre in Wicklow, Ireland. Tiglin is an addiction recovery centre "based on the principles of the Teen Challenge Christian based organisation which started caring for troubled youth in New York City in 1958 by David Wilkerson Author of “The Cross and the Switchblade”. Tiglin Challenge strives to help the ‘whole person’, not just the substance abuse. The Tiglin Challenge approach is to teach a whole new way of living by addressing family relationships, work attitudes, self image, peer pressure, temptation, community relationships and a variety of other life skills" (Source). A number of the volunteers at DCM are graduates of Tiglin so many volunteers enjoy being involved in their weekly outreach to the homeless.
Anyways, Tiglin has a homeless cafe set up on a bus that travels around to different areas around Dublin during the week, ministering to the homeless [See pictures above]. They provide sandwiches, tea, coffee, and clothing when donations allow. This past Thursday, I was feel pretty discouraged. We had spent all day prepping and serving a meal at The Lighthouse and I was just exhausted. In addition to being exhausted I was really struggling with how to relate to the homeless people I've met. I just kept hearing a chant over and over in my head, "I have nothing in common with these people. I can't imagine what they've been through. What can I say to encourage them?" I was at a loss. I didn't know how to ask some about their addictions or others about the pain of being homeless. I was so focused on these people's pain that I just couldn't think of anything to do or say. It was so frustrating and I was just feeling so burnt out. However, a volunteer named Marissa from Michigan still encouraged me to do my best to show people I cared. A few people came in and out of the bus and after a short time I noticed an older homeless man standing off to the side by himself. I walked up to him and introduced myself. He told me his name was Brenden and asked me where I was from. I told him I currently lived in South Carolina, to which he asked me, "Is that anywhere near Oklahoma?" I laughed and told him, not really. He explained, "I don't really know where Oklahoma is, I just heard of it in a song." Now, I don't know about you, but there's only one song I know that is about Oklahoma and it's from the musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. I'm a little bit of a musical nerd and I got really excited. I said, "This song?" and proceeded to sing the first few lines of the chorus.
"Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain....
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!"
I can't explain to you all how Brenden's face lite up when I began singing the lyrics. His smile is quite noticeable as he's missing all of his front teeth, haha. He nodded excitedly before adding, "I love all thing about the old west in America... like, I love to listen to Johnny Cash."
At this, I grinned right along with him before singing again,
"I fell into a burnin' ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher,
And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire."
Again, his face lite up so brightly as he slowly began to sing along with me. I laughed joyfully as I told him about this pony we had at camp that was named "A Boy Named Sue" after a Johnny Cash song. He enjoyed that. Then I invited him to come to The Lighthouse for a meal this week. He told me he knew about it, but he'd never been before. We finished our conversation and he said he had to be on his way.
That night when I got back to the flat, I realized what a gift God had given me. Here I was frustrated and angry that I couldn't relate to these homeless peoples' pains... AND YET... I think God was showing me I didn't need to. I didn't need to relate to their pain, their hurt, or their losses. I didn't have to understand their addictions or difficult choices in life in order to show God's love.... because when you look at scripture, Jesus didn't spend all his time focusing on people's hurts. Instead, amidst broken and lost people, he gave them a reason to have joy and hope. This hope and joy Jesus brings is found by loving people BEYOND their hurts. It's seeing that everyone is broken and lost, but God can still find a way to bring a smile to your face even when you feel like you've lost everything. I was blown away. Once again, God answered a prayer that I didn't even realize I was praying.
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”