by Dave Hepburn
Luke 4:18 (NIV)
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,”
The Brown Baggers Bible Study group meets on Fridays at noon. We’re part of the PVUMC Journeys Small Groups. Usually, we have a book study and discussion, but occasionally, during the holidays, we go out into the community for a time of service. On Friday, December 15, several members of the group visited Justa Center, an organization for senior citizens who are homeless in the Phoenix area. The day resource center helps those over the age of 55 find appropriate housing, employment, and other much-needed services and their mission is to “transform the lives of all the individuals we come in contact with” and “expect miracles.” During our visit, we dropped off 140 Christmas cards to the homeless seniors at the center. Each card included a $5 gift card to either McDonald’s or CVS Pharmacy. The clients were very appreciative of the cards and the cookies we brought, which were gone in a nano-second.
What a gift it was for us to be able to share a small bit of good cheer with these homeless seniors and get to know them. Listening to some of their stories was a humbling experience. We heard the stories of two men, Rudy and Danny. Rudy came to Justa several years ago as a homeless person with a debilitating cervical back issue. Justa was able to help Rudy get great medical service and, after surgery, he was able to once again walk without pain. Rudy gives all of the credit to God and now serves as the Volunteer Coordinator at Justa Center. Danny, who looked like he may be in his late 60s or early 70s, said he became addicted to heroine when he was 17 years old. He began to steal to support his habit and eventually found himself in prison where he spent 34 years. Upon his release, and after several years of trying to get by on his own, his Probation Officer sent him to Justa Center. He now works at Justa and is proud to say that he has been clean and sober for over 12 years. Like Rudy, Danny gives all of the credit to God for his transformation. What an incredible blessing to meet and serve these wonderful folks. Sherry Switzenberg, said, “What a great experience visiting Justa Center was. It really made me doubly thankful for all I am blessed with. Seeing how these people live put a whole new slant on what we consider our “problems.” How fortunate we all are! Count your blessings and have a wonderful holiday! Merry Christmas everyone!”
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for opening our eyes to the problems others face this Christmas and all year. Thank you for all of the Brown Baggers, who are generous, loving and kind to the most marginalized in our community. We are blessed with opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. Keep us focused on proclaiming the good news as we serve others.In Christ’s name, Amen.