Spring rushed in last week, pushing winter into a memory. Winter certainly was memorable. Since starting my new gig, writing fell to the back burner, including my blog. Starting a new job and adjusting to a new schedule is always challenging. After having spent a week there providing shelter and food for 1200 homeless people, I’m wondering how they are going to handle 3000 young teenage boys at the DCC .
I start my twelfth week as the main food dude at my new ministry gig. OurCalling is a Dallas-based homeless discipleship ministry. It’s been an incredibly rewarding, mind-blowing experience so far, including operating the largest temporary homeless shelter in the history of Dallas during Snowmageddon. I am learning new things every day and I am honored to work alongside a great team of compassionate, Christ-loving people. Prayer, God’s Word, and Jesus are visibly present and form the foundation of what we do.
Did you know that the Dallas homeless population has grown exponentially over the last five years? The 500% increase in the number of unsheltered individuals living in Big D in recent years has the city on pace to catch up with the homeless populations of Los Angeles and New York City. With only 2,300 shelter beds available to serve over 10,000 homeless people, the homeless crisis in Dallas leaves people in harm’s way because the streets are no place to call home. And it’s not just Dallas that is witnessing an increase in the number of homeless people. The homeless population throughout Texas is increasing by double-digit percentages.
Our approach is centered on loving our neighbors well and supported by building genuine relationships with our guests. During the week, we serve over 1,000 lunches to our outside friends. The homeless are people created in the image of God, just like you and me. Their lives matter, just like yours and mine matter. They are human beings who have value and deserve to be treated with dignity just like any of us. The factors causing their homelessness are varied and cover a spectrum of concerns. Rather than focusing on why they are homeless, we focus on figuring out how to help them get off the streets. We try to do that without passing judgment, rendering guilt, or expounding shame.
The food side of OurCalling is intriguing and interesting. For the majority of our meals, we depend on God’s provision through donations. I cull through two truckloads of donations a week, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 pounds weekly, to determine what will be on the menu the following week. Menu planning is an adventure and demands a certain amount of creativity. Preparing the meals (in addition to lunch, we serve coffee and a little something for breakfast), depends on a small army of volunteers devoting their time and energy to our cause. My kitchen is staffed with a rotating, ever-changing team of 30-40 individuals working together to serve excellent meals to our homeless friends. This adds excitement and energy to my job in a way that I don’t know I’ve ever experienced.
Our menu varies day-to-day but consists of good food including comfort meals like spaghetti and pot roast. Pork chops, burgers, and steaks also make regular appearances on my weekly menu. Green beans, sweet corn, peas, mashed potatoes, and rice are frequent accompaniments to the meal as is bread and dessert. It’s a blast creating good food from what the Lord has graciously provided through generous donors. Several months ago, someone asked me if I considered myself to be a creative person. I replied that I didn’t. Conjuring up a menu plan has reminded me that each of us is born with a certain degree of creativity. The trick is finding a means of unleashing it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I abandoned my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan to focus more deeply on studying Jesus and the Four Gospels. Since making this pivot, I have focused on studying the miracles of Jesus as well as studying miracles in Scripture. After my recent experience serving at the Dallas Convention Center with OurCalling, diving into a study of miracles is appropriate and important. Seeing a reflection of the miracle of the fishes and loaves play out before my eyes certainly fuels my new found fascination with the miracles, signs, and wonders of Jesus.
So far, exploring the miracles of Jesus has been enlightening, eye-opening, and encouraging. Passion Week-the week before His crucifixion–leads up to the greatest miracle in all of Scripture. My prayer for each of us this coming week is that we will take the time to focus on the incredible miracle and meaning of Easter. Yes, it’s NOT about hunting eggs and bunny rabbits. Rather, it’s about the great God of all creation loving us so incredibly, unbelievably much that He gave His one and only beloved Son as an atoning sacrifice for us so that we were not doomed to perish but have the opportunity to live forever in the presence and right relationship with our Creator. This is a gift of grace received through faith given to us by God and God alone. We did nothing to earn it. We didn’t work for it. God, in His providence, provided a way out for us, removing any condemnation due us, through the forgiveness of our sins by the precious shed blood of Jesus Christ. I pray that if you haven’t done so already, you’ll claim that promise available to you so that you can fulfill the purpose the Lord created you to carry out and accomplish for His glory.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, shining His favor on you.
The Devotional Guy™