Heart for the Homeless-Part 1

Oxford Dictionary defines homelessness
January 13, 2016
Coming Soon
January 13, 2016

Heart for the Homeless-Part 1

About a year and a half ago, I was blessed to have my heart awakened and changed towards homeless people. I can’t say that I completely ignored them before, but I was mildly moved and passively concerned before this experience. Generally speaking, I just always felt like I didn’t have much to give or that it just really didn’t matter to barely help someone. If I had a few dollars, I’d give it freely, but it was never much; and normally I would drive right by speaking a half hearted prayer and feeling ‘off the hook’ for not carrying any cash. I did this for years…barely seeing them…barely caring!

Then one beautifully brisk, October day, I found myself driving down the main street in the serene Mountain town of Frisco. It was crystal clear, the last of the fall leaves clinging to the trees and my heart was so happy it could burst. My dear friend had lent my family their awesome time share in the neighboring town Dillon, and I was feeling beyond blessed! It had been a rough month for my family since my husband had lost his job, being a single income family, as we were holding onto hope and waiting on the Lord for a new job. Dillon Reservoir was one of my favorite places and this small getaway was so timely to lift our spirits.

After checking into the timeshare, I left my husband and 2 little girls behind to go pick up some quick food. Unknowingly I drove the long way around the reservoir, taking my time to marvel at the beauty and glory of the Lord and His creation!

Suddenly I passed a group of teenagers holding a cardboard sign on the side of the road. It snapped me out of my precious moment and read something to the effect of ‘help please’ or ‘food please’ and honestly I can’t exactly remember; but I’m sure you get the point. They were 2 boys and 2 girls: young, filthy, sad, and looking very far away from home. As I turned into the Taco Bell parking lot, I wondered at their youth and how they ended up on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. Did they run away from home together? Did their parents kick them out? I saw the 2 boys go behind the bush to smoke a cigarette, leaving the 2 girls on the side of the road to hold the sign. I pulled into the drive-through and pondered whether or not I should buy them some food.

The sight of them moved me…but did I already mention we had no income. We were on what I call ‘super budget mode’ not really knowing when we’d get a paycheck again. We had just enough money to make it to the end of the month.

I pulled up to the drive-through speaker as the guy on the other end crackled that he’d be with me in a minute. I started to agonize, remembering how giving our various friends had been to give us groceries, gift cards, and even this trip to the timeshare after we lost our income. Looking at the menu, I saw they had a box of mixed tacos and burritos for about $9 and I figured that could feed the 4 teenagers. But then I started to figure in the cost of the food I would buy for my family as well and it was over $20…more than my budget…more than I wanted to spend for one meal really. While having this internal battle, the guy behind the speaker was taking forever! Not knowing what choice to make, I started to pray. I felt peace about spending the money so I decided I would do it; I would buy them the box of food. The guy comes over the speaker almost immediately and I order the food, then wait my turn to inch around the building, waiting to come to the window.
After turning the side of the building while waiting for my food, I could see the teenagers again. The girls were still on the roadside, and the boys were still taking a break. I started praying for them again, really pouring out my heart for the young girls. Suddenly I felt like the Lord wanted me to pray for the girls when I gave them the food. Um no, I can’t do that I thought! My stomach had butterflies, as I pleaded with God not to make me do that! I don’t know those girls! At this stage of my life, I don’t pray out loud with people! Can’t I just hand them the food from my car; can’t I just pray for them silently; what if they laugh at me; what if they try to hurt me; what if they think I’m crazy and say no; can’t I just stay in my safe-comfy bubble! Why was the line not moving! What was taking the food so long…isn’t this supposed to be fast food! The thoughts raced through my head uncontrollably. Why was God putting this on my heart, didn’t He know this just wasn’t me! This wasn’t my cause! This wasn’t my gifting! Ughhh the internal battle raged. Finally I relented, and not very enthusiastically I decided I would pray for them and give them food. Like ‘magic,’ the line moved forward and they quickly gave me my food.

I slowly pulled straight forward out of the drive-through and into the parking spot. I parked, grabbed the food, and hesitantly stared at the 2 teenage girls still standing on the side of the road. They looked chilly, alone and miserable. Here goes nothing and everything I thought! I got out and ran over to them. “Here’s some food” I said lamely. They took the food and were so incredibly thankful. Before I could second guess it, I asked them if I could pray for them really quick. To my surprise they said yes! To late to turn back, I stood between them and put my arm around each of them like a huddle. I closed my eyes and prayed a simple, quick blessing over them. I opened my eyes to say goodbye and they were both crying! I gave them a quick hug and turned to run off back to my car. The last thing I heard was the girls saying “ that was so cool, I can’t believe it” through their tears.
Trying to make a quick exit, I jumped back into my humble car, when a super fancy suv with 2 older, pristine-looking women pulled up next to me and rolled down their window. The ladies asked me if I knew the 2 teenage girls. I replied no. They said they were amazed at how kind I was. I mumbled thank you then drove off embarrassed and dumbfounded. I immediately prayed that they would be moved to help those girls as well, especially because they looked as if they had so much more to give than I.

Wow talk about the emotion that followed! Merging onto I-70 to drive the one exit back to the timeshare and back to my family (the way I should have driven to Taco Bell), I was hit by overwhelming emotion and tears. I seriously balled! I can’t even explain it! I was so happy to help; with all my heart I wanted to do more; I wished I would have talked to the girls longer and learn their story; I grieved for them and why they weren’t home with their mom having dinner or sitting in a Taco Bell drive-through with friends! Most of all, I couldn’t understand why the whole time I was there, no one else helped. Then I was reminded, I myself almost didn’t help! It occurred to me that if I hadn’t driven the long way around the reservoir, I probably wouldn’t have even seen them! Sometimes God just has other plans…better plans. To this day, I’m so thankful I listened!

I’ll probably never know what happened to those girls. I pray for them often, and I hope that they are better off than when I encountered them a year and a half ago. I thank God that He used them to forever change my heart. No longer could I drive past a cardboard sign. No longer could I believe I had nothing to give! No longer could I fail to see homeless people for who they are, people who are loved by God and need my love as well!

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others”- Philippians 2:4

Ashleah Castro