The Truth About Poverty - Mac Bailey

To reflect upon the experience I have had feeding the homeless for almost three years is a difficult task. The epoch began with a with a hardened heart and a lack of sympathy. It began through relationships, heartbreak, and great joy. I am glad to say that my life had truly been changed. In feeding the homeless, my eyes have been opened to the truth about poverty in this country, my approach to life has been transformed completely, and God has directed me on a completely different life path.

The thing about feeding the homeless that started the train which wrecked my life is how it opened my eyes to see poverty in its true form. I came to the cold hard truth that poverty in this country is just as evil as it is in every other country. Although the United States may boast equal opportunity and freedom for all, these rights belong to the privileged few. To be honest, when I first started feeding it was nothing more than a service project with no more purpose than to give a few hours to the nameless hobos who dirtied our streets. All it took was one conversation with one man to take the first swing at the wall of ignorance I had built which kept my sympathy for the homeless hidden. That hit, combined with all the other conversations, brought that wall tumbling down. Perhaps the hardest thing to grasp was the fact that the privileged few, which I am a part, plays a major role in keeping the homeless where they are: restricted, de-humanized, and poor. The simple truth is that poverty is evil, and that it grieves the heart of God.

After my eyes were opened and my life was wrecked, God set about rebuilding it. He started with my heart and my approach towards life. The old sense of entitlement I once displayed for all to see was thrown to the flames, and humility took its place as the new centerpiece of my life. With humility came gratefulness and servanthood. I now strive for a heart full of the Holy Spirit, and a life like that of Jesus. This renovation was fueled by the forming of long lasting relationships with those whom I fed. With these people I was able to experience the pain brought on by loneliness and degradation, yet I was also able to experience the joy and hope brought only by Jesus. I now see Him in the poor everywhere I go - I realize now that only after modeling my life in the image of Jesus am I able to see Him among the poor, whom he calls me to serve. When my approach towards life changed, so did the calling God gave me.

Before I started feeding the homeless, my life was without direction except the dream of riches. Now I have a complete devotion to the fight against injustice. After witnessing the crime of poverty in the wealthiest country on Earth I cannot ignore the calling God has given me. My time among the homeless in Tampa has cultivated a spiritual life in me that I pray will continue to grow, so that I may be a light in a dark world. I will never forget that the thing which started this transformation was feeding the homeless.

Drew Coffman