Everyone is Someone

I am haunted by her image. She was a woman laying on the corner of the cold sidewalk on 5th Avenue in New York City. She looked like she had been to hell and back. Her only cover against the wind was a dirty white sheet that she had pulled up to her chin. Her face was twisted with agony and age. Literally thousands of people walked by her every hour—including me. How could I be so calloused to leave this women in this condition? Yet, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to help. In hindsight, that is a pretty lame excuse, and in fact is no excuse at all. I should have done something.

We returned from our NYC mission trip and I find it’s hard to answer the question we keep getting asked, “How was your trip?” Well, it was amazing—both in a good way and in a bad way. We saw a ton of sights but we also saw the depths of poverty and human misery. And the tremendous contrast between the mega rich and the filthy poor was staggering.

One of our tasks was serving in a soup kitchen. As I stood there dishing up rice, I wondered where the people coming through the line had spent the night and where they were headed afterwards. They were young and old. Many didn’t speak English. Some obviously had mental health issues. We tried to warmly greet each one as we served up a modest but hot lunch. One woman from our trip told us how she was overcome with emotion in her attempt to look each one in the eye and address them as “sir” or “ma’am.” Those who are so down and out aren’t used to being noticed. Most people walk by them like they are a part of the sidewalk. Just like I had walked by the woman on 5th Avenue

I know we have poverty in any community and you don’t have to travel to find people who have hit hard times. Unfortunately economic disparity exists everywhere and the face of homelessness isn’t one dimensional. You can’t put a label on any population of people. But for the grace of God….

It also made me wonder what the people we were serving thought about us; this group of white women in hair nets and aprons. Did they think we felt good about our “sacrifice” to serve them, only to happily return to our comfortable way of life? Perhaps they are right.

They don’t know our full story; we don’t know theirs.

But I must admit I am convicted. I’m sorry that I didn’t stop and do something for that woman on the street. She is one of God’s children. She was someone’s daughter, maybe someone’s mother or wife, but sadly it would appear that she is not someone to anyone now. Who knows how she got to where she is. Does it matter? 

Being Human connection: Everyone is someone to Christ; and should be to me too.