One Man’s Story

Perhaps you had a chance to read the recent uplifting news story in the Herald Palladium about Odis Jones, a local man who recently secured permanent housing. I met Odis last winter, and shortly thereafter, case managers from Emergency Shelter Services did a phenomenal job helping Odis secure an apartment, and assisting him in all the necessary steps along the way. While most news leaves us feeling hopeless and spinning in a downward vortex, this story will land you on solid footing, restoring your confidence in humanity’s propensity to do good in the world: I celebrate the section in the story that highlights the case managers’ relentless commitment to see Odis through the obstacles he faced along the way as well as the moving story of Odis’ life, inspiring Kendra’s painting. We are not left unchanged when we choose to invest in the lives of others. Jesus is recorded in the gospels as stating “the poor you will always have with you.” The context, is of course, a woman performing an extravagant, beautiful act of devotion and love by pouring expensive oil on Jesus. Her act is judged harshly by others, and Jesus responds with the words, “the poor you will always have with you.” It makes me wonder: Will the poor always be among us, because the rich have something to learn from the poor? And may they perhaps always be among us, because it is the way to work out God’s justice in the world? Is our interaction with the poor a working out of our own salvation? This story certainly doesn’t give us credence to sit back in complacency just because Jesus doesn’t provide a blueprint to ending poverty, but it may wake us up to the reality of God’s heart and concern for justice in the world. Just yesterday I met an individual on the streets of New Buffalo. His story is that he needs help paying his electric bill. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions, make a few calls on his behalf, and encouraged him to follow-up with United Way’s 2-1-1 to find resources in his hometown in Indiana, explaining that it is challenging to access eligible services out of state. Oftentimes all we have time to do is drive by these types of situations, or perhaps wave or meet the person’s eye, but when time allows, I wonder what it would look like for more of us to interact with the poor. Find out a name, a need, call 2-1-1 on their behalf. In God’s Kingdom, these are the stories that make headlines and change lives, ours included. 


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