Love AND be loved

Church in the Park, Houston - YWAM Madison outreach

Everyone's welcome at Church in the Park - Houston, TX

by Breana, Children at Risk DTS student

Homeless ministry might as well have been a foreign term to me with the way I was acting yesterday.

I was walking around the little grassy park, where my team was helping run that day's Church in the Park, making and avoiding eye contact at the same time.

“Hi, how are you?” I said to each person, with a little wave and slight bow. Yeah, really awkward.

As I walked through the park, greeting people this way, I conveniently found myself getting closer and closer to our team van. How easy would it be to just slip right inside that van and wait for everything to be over? I could just wait for the rest of my team to finish the service.

But that's when my accidental eye contact kind of worked against me (or for me, as it turns out).

I met the eyes of a man standing between two others. I smiled and he smiled back. I wondered if God had helped me notice him, if I should talk to him. After the church service, we served a meal and then put away all the chairs. I saw him again, this time he stood alone. He had that look on his face like he needed someone to talk to.

Church in the Park, Houston - YWAM Madison outreach

Serving meals and sweet tea at Church in the Park - Houston, TX

So what did I do? I started to walk away. I sure could relate with Jonah right about then. But I'm a stubborn person and I knew I was at the Church in the Park for a reason. Breana, it's time to be bold, I told myself. I veered off my path to the van and walked right up to the man.

“Hi, I'm Breana,” I said, sticking out my hand.

He didn't want to shake my hand. But then he told me his name, Edward. We made some small talk, talking about the weather, and, well, the weather. Not surprisingly, our conversation died down.

“Thanks for coming out here,” Edward said. “And thanks for talking to me. I almost didn't come to Church in the Park this morning.”

Wow, I thought. That was all the encouragement I needed to keep being bold and obedient to what God tells me to do: to step out and talk to people. I realized that just talking to someone really could mean a lot.

“I'm going to bring you a Christmas card tomorrow,” Edward said.

Church in the Park, Houston - YWAM Madison outreach

Breana and Edward at Church in the Park, Houston, TX.

Today, Edward brought me a Christmas card, just like he said. And he brought another card for the rest of my team.

“I don't really like talking in a microphone,” he said. “But I'll read the card to you all so you know how thankful I am that you came here.”

When he got up in front of everyone and read the card, I was so touched by what he said. I was so glad I met the person I almost walked away from. I realized that not only were my team and I there to encourage and love people, but we could also receive love and encouragement. Edward reminded me of so many things I'm learning on my YWAM journey.

He reminded me to love AND to be loved.