Just a few short months ago we launched our newest project Ponce Village – Homeless Women Housing. I was very excited! But as time passed, I began to feel like no one cared. No one (outside of our family) appeared concerned enough that these women (who are sleeping in bushes and trying to protect themselves from men and other predators from harming them) to actually DO something about it. As I began to experience and feel the indifference of others regarding the needs of these women I began to regress, and my desire to keep pressing on, began to wane.
Recently I have begun to think about the Life my Family and I lived in Arizona. We had the most beautiful new home nestled in the Ahwatukee Foothills, doing what most Americans do: chase the American Dream. I didn’t care about the poor. All I thought about was, how much more can I GET! What’s ironic is due to my husbands business success, we did achieve the American Dream, but it still wasn’t enough.
I had everything…apart from Joy.
Then one day when I was driving in my car, I heard a local organization on the radio asking people to donate NEW clothing and toys for a shelter for women and children. It caught my attention and immediately began to think, “What if that were me? – Would I want someone to be there for me and my children?” Would I want someone to take a brief moment from their self consuming lives to stop and think of me and my children If I were in a shelter? And my immediate answer was YES!
When I said that, I noticed a well known shopping center was coming up at the next exit. I parked my car, grabbed a cart and made my way through the isles. I bought children’s clothes in various sizes along with clothing for their Mothers. I then made my way down the toy isle (it was Christmastime) and as I pushed my cart through the busy isle, I began to weep. They were not tears of sadness, on the contrary, they were tears of JOY! So much so, it felt as though a river of immense Joy was pouring out of me, which led me to think, “What is this?!”
I did not receive an answer until the Lord moved us back to Michigan where Jesus had a talk with my husband in our living room. He had him open up his checkbook and said, “What have you been spending your money on?” And as Rick looked, it was all for our family and our pleasure. Then he had him open his Bible to Matthew 25:31-46, and said, “This is NOT a parable, this is NOT a story, this IS going to happen one day.”
When my husband read those verses, and shared what the Lord said to him with me when I got home that day, I understood WHY Jesus led me to the store that day, and later revealed that the Joy I felt in the store that day was His Joy, and is always available if we will Love our Neighbor. John 15.
When Jesus returns, with 100 million angels (whose job will be to separate the sheep from the goats) He will gather every human being (all nations) and will say these words:
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations[e] will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46.
After learning about what Jesus will be looking for on that day, our family began to look for and care for the needs of others.
Since our move to Florida (2003), and launching the first church in the history of Ponce Inlet – Ponce Church, our family and volunteers, have served over 20,000 meals to our homeless community in Daytona Beach (320 North Street) every Saturday. Since then there have been two more days added to the week and soon we plan to add another day to serve our friends.
We also provide a home, Legacy House, for aging out foster girls (see legacyhousingproject.com) and have been successful in preventing youth homelessness and trafficking.
As I mentioned earlier we have recently launched the vision of Ponce Village – Homeless Women Housing and are currently planning our first fundraiser.
A very dear friend, I consider her my mother ( my Mom died when I was 15) has begun a new journey with the Lord, and for the first time in her life, she is experiencing what it means to love your neighbor. In her personal story, she shares publicly, that the Lord recently spoke to her and said, “You are a lukewarm Christian.” (Rev 3) She was shocked. Because, as she shares in her story of how she attends church regularly, tithes, gives to charity, among other things, and shares that she has been consumed with her own needs and pleasures, not really caring for others. Since her recent encounter with the Lord – she created a page titled, “All Things Have Become New – Again” where she daily shares what the Lord has been revealing to her regarding caring for others, including the poor. In her story she shares how she was living in pain for 2 years, and no one came to help her (other than her husband) and when she heard from the Lord early this year, she remembered what she went through, and that today she is more aware of the needs of others, including caring for the sick and helping those in need.
I have not told her this yet, but her recent experience has given me a FRESH new inspiration to KEEP going! I have decided that even if it appears that no one cares about these women – God does. And the scriptures say the “Earth is the Lords and the Fullness thereof” meaning, he owns everything and will ensure that these women WILL receive justice and be housed and that ALL the funding needed will come to make this vision a reality!
Glory be to God forever more!
Today, nearly 20 years later, I ask myself a similar question: What if that were me? What If I was on the street, alone, homeless and sleeping in the bushes? Would I want someone to care enough to help me?…Yes.
Pastor Nina is the author of her new book: LOVE AWAKENS