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Who Are The Truly Blessed?

By , Olathe, KS
It was impossible to tell who was a resident and who was a visitor, who had a home and who was homeless. In this humble home resides a small group of strangers brought together by one common interest: to minister to the homeless. They learned that food and shelter weren’t the greatest need among the Kansas City homeless community. The homeless find enough food by rummaging through the dumpsters behind restaurants and grocery stores. They find shelter in abandoned homes and beneath highway overpasses. Some aren’t actually homeless; they have homes, but no utilities. Rather, the greatest need for these individuals is a place to take a shower, to get a clean set of clothes, and a chance to feel like they belong. When these needs are met, hope is restored.
That’s where the Cherith Brook home comes into the story. This group of optimistic, selfless people live to care for the homeless. They have a shower house they operate five days a week, opening their doors to anyone who wants to come inside for a cup of donated coffee, a stale pastry, a clean change of clothes, and ten minutes to themselves in a private bathroom with a shower. Clean towels, razors, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, and other personal products are all provided. Between each shower, the residents scrub the bathrooms to make them ready for the next homeless occupant. When the showers are over for the day, the residents begin laundering all of the dirty clothes, bath towels, and cleaning cloths. Their backs ache and their hands are red, dry and chapped from their work. Tomorrow will be a repeat of today, and they will greet the day and the homeless with the same smiles, energy, loving respect, and compassion as they did today.
Once a week, they open the doors to their home and invite the homeless inside for an opportunity to sit at a table and to eat food from a real plate with proper eating utensils. I had the opportunity to assist with serving the meal one night. It was all foreign to me. No one knocked on the door, so I thought that the first ones coming in and setting up tables and chairs in the living room, hallway and entryway, starting coffee, and setting plates and silverware around the tables were all residents of the Cherith Brook home. Everyone was introduced to me by first name. It wasn’t until I was introduced to a gentleman by the name of “Sabertooth” that I realized that the residents and the homeless all blended together into one working family. I had passed by Sabertooth on my way to Cherith Brook. He’d been standing on the side of the road, holding a homeless sign in his hands. Yet here he was again, washing dishes and filling water pitchers for the dinner crowd.
On a typical night, approximately fifty people come in from the streets to enjoy conversation over dinner. There isn’t room for everyone to sit at the same time, as it’s a small home, so they take turns sitting down to eat and serving one another. When they finish eating, they help clear the tables and wash and dry the dishes. Everything is put back in its place before they leave for the evening.
Both the residents and the homeless all take pride in the Cherith Brook home. The front yard is dedicated to a community garden rather than a grassy lawn. The homeless help tend to the garden and they all enjoy the vegetables that they grow. There’s a chicken coop in the back, as well as huge drums to capture excess rain water that can be used to water the garden. After filtering, it’s also used for laundry. The residents of the home share their Christian faith with the homeless as well, shedding light on the hopelessness of their circumstances. They assist with any needs the homeless may have, from recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to finding jobs and reconnecting with lost family members.
Everyone I met the night I visited Cherith Brook was kind. Everyone was content. There was no pretense and no worries. They each seemed at peace for those few hours we spent together. They had so little, yet they were so content. In our environment, I feel at times that I’m surrounded by people who are always striving for more. In their contentment with so little, did they really have more than the rest of us? Is this a case where more is less? My experience left me with a haunting thought: Who are the truly blessed?





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