Fig Leaf, Open Door

The Open Door Ministry is more about Love and Friendship…

Blog Post by Cade Patterson:true friend

Open door has been and continues to be a blessing. It is a shared experience of love and friendship with people that I would otherwise never encounter. The first time I volunteered I was taken aback by the people there. I was expecting to see all these people from church that I was used to seeing on Sunday mornings, instead I saw a diverse group of volunteers, some who themselves were homeless, all working together. It was very foreign to me. I was put to work in the kitchen making some bean and cheese quesadillas and then I was put out on the serving line when it was time to serve. When the doors are opened we first let the families in which consist of single moms with children, then the women and then the rest. Seeing the children coming in first in a mad dash really struck nerve with me, it was unexpected. I thought the homeless in Austin exclusively consisted of the people you see on the drag or at stop lights around town. It never occurred to me that we would be feeding so many children, it was upsetting to me since my wife and I had such a young daughter at home that was close in age to the kids rushing through the door and down the line. I spent the rest of the time there handing out food saying hi and greeting people, once the line died down and I was told I could leave I took off. I felt good that I had volunteered but was unsettled by what I had seen and done. I knew I could offer more than just standing behind a table handing food to people and smiling. So the following Saturday I went back. This time I was put at the entrance to the dining hall to hand out the trays to the visitors. Again the doors opened up the kids came rushing in, then the women, then the men. I handed out the trays, I introduced myself, shook hands, and I got an up close and personal view of our visitors. I saw some of the same people from the week before but this time I introduced myself and started to ask people about themselves. I asked people where they were from, this is a question I ask to everybody there, and a couple of people were from DFW area where I grew up so that gave me a chance to really connect and talk with them. When things started to wind down instead of going home I hung around to help clean up, it was during this that I started to connect with some of the best people I know. Nothing like sweating, sweeping, and mopping a church week after week will get people to know each other. When I went home this time I felt much better, I felt a closeness with some new friends. So I went back again and again and again, for the past two and half years almost every Saturday. Open door is a selfish act for me. I say this because there is no way that I can give more to the people there than they give me. I feel a happiness and a closeness to Christ’s teaching that I otherwise would never have had. It is the most stress free thing I do all week, just to smile and look a friend in the eyes and talk about how their week was and how their family is doing. This happens by seeing them every week, more than I see all of my other friends. I get to see them experience some happiness by giving them a bus pass, a small gesture that affords them 24hrs of relief of not having to walk everywhere. I have made some lifelong friends in the other volunteers, people who mentor me and show me what real Christianity and faith looks like. I no longer look away from someone at stop light asking for money, I roll down my window, hand them a bus pass if I have one, and ask them how they are doing, where they are from, and invite them to the church on Saturday morning. The Open Door ministry is more about love and friendship than anything else. The visitors that come through that door every Saturday are hungrier for that love and friendship than they are for the food and clothing we supply. They spend all day everyday being told no, having people avoid them, not look at them, or taunting them. We are social beings and need a connection to others, can you imagine going all week and not experiencing a conversation or a smile from the people around you? Every Saturday at the church the red carpet is out, they are told yes, they are hugged, they are greeted by people with smiles who care deeply about them, and they are made to feel at home. Open Door is about love and following Christ’s teachings.

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