Julie Jackson – WCU – Baptist Friendship House - Louisiana
It’s been another week, and we’ve been busy continuing inventory for the backpacking event next month. If you’re interested in volunteering, there’s still plenty of time to get involved! And if you can’t come, but would like to donate items, feel free to check the website at www.baptistfrienshiphouse.org and BFH’s Facebook page to see what is still needed to meet the goal.
This week, instead of handing out snack packs outside, I stayed inside and met some of the women who came in for showers. Most are struggling with mental health issues or addictions, or they are homeless or victims of trafficking. Because of their backgrounds, it can be difficult to gain their trust and build relationships with them. One of the women I talked with told me that her mom emancipated her when she was sixteen, and that she’s been on her own ever since. She still seemed fairly young, but it was clear that she had been traveling alone for a long time.
One day, Kay took Kali and me with her to pick up a man that the BFH has been working with. Kay has known him since before Katrina, but it wasn’t until recently that he was baptized. He’s terminally ill, and was struggling with alcohol addiction before he was diagnosed with his illness. Kay and the staff at BFH helped him into a housing program. He had been living under a house down the street from BFH before that, even though he was sick and very frail. He had disappeared for a few days last week, causing a lot of worry until he reappeared. He told Kay that he had been on his own for so long, he didn’t think anyone would care enough to worry about him, so he didn’t think to tell anyone where he was going. There are so many people who just survive on their own, with no one to tell them that they are loved and cared for. Like the woman I mentioned above, this man is just one of many. There are too many people even in this one city who are alone and unreached, with no one to help them and show them the love of Christ.
Over the weekend, the four of us summer missionaries went into the French Quarter to eat and look around. We actually saw some of the people that we work with throughout the week in the Quarter. One woman looked like she had been abused since we last saw her; another one was sitting on the sidewalk playing music to earn money. It was different seeing homeless people whose names I knew. It gave me a different perspective. Certainly, there are people begging on the street who use the money to feed their addictions, and we need wisdom to keep from enabling those addictions. But there are people who are truly in need that we walk past every day as well. I think it can be easy sometimes to get so wrapped up in not being deceived that we end up losing our compassion.
These are some of the thoughts that I’ve walked away with this week. A lot of these were thoughts and ideas that I actually hadn’t managed to put into words until just now. I’m hoping that by telling you about the things that I’m seeing and experiencing here, that you will be challenged to see the people around you in a new way, too.
Continue to pray for us here, for the conversations we have, and the relationships we build. I would also like to challenge you to pray that God would show you people that you can reach out to and show His love and compassion to. Feel free to message me with any questions that you may have, or let me know if you decide to come help with the backpacking event!