This post was written in January of 2007:
I went to see The Pursuit of Happyness movie last December. If you have not seen it, it is a great story of coming from the lowest of low to the highest place. Will Smith goes from being someone living on the streets without a home to being a successful business man. The movie so characterizes the American Dream that it makes you want to stand up and sing the national anthem, but in reality success and prosperity do not define day to day life for many people not only around the world but in our own cities. These people are the ones that get brushed into the alleyways, street corners, and garbage dumps of the rest of us while we are living our American Dream. This issue came face to face with me when I was in Atlanta last week. I go to school in urban Birmingham so I am used to being in the city and seeing people who are struggling. The problem is that I have become so used to it that I have lost a heart for people. They tend to just sink in to the scenery as a walk across campus looking for a good place to whip out my laptop and get online. This week in Atlanta, however, I got to encounter and feel what these hurting people feel. I was sitting in McDonalds reading a book waiting for some friends to bring my food to the table when he approached. He quickly got my attention and asked if he could ask me a question. I agreed so he sat down across the table from me and we began to talk. He introduced himself and told me the story of his 20 years on the streets of Atlanta with his wife. He said that they struggle to find food for their next meal and cannot find somewhere warm to sleep at night. This broke my heart. He asked me for a few dollars to buy some breakfast, and I gave it to him. He then went on his way. This simple encounter has been on my mind and heart ever since it happened. These people so fit Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25 when he tells us that whatever we do unto the least of these we have done unto Him. Why are we not more mindful of those freezing and starving around us? Where is the heart in each one of us to not just gather in our warm churches and talk theology but to get out and live the grace and mercy of God out to the least of these? God, make me a person who does not miss the very people who need my help!