God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Every Friday night, the folks at Springtime of Hope would help to feed and clothe the needy in and around St. Bernard’s Church in downtown Akron. A wonderful Friday night meal would be served and shoes, blankets, tarps, coats and gloves would be distributed.
As the season of Advent began, my friend, Jeff, asked if I would facilitate a Bible Study for the homeless on Friday nights, after dinner.
“Who would go to a bible study during the cold winter months,” I asked.
“I really don’t know,” he replied. “But we could set it up, announce it at dinner, and see what happens.” And we did.
The first night we had two men stay for the bible study. I was surprised that they both were carrying bibles and you could tell they were well worn from use. Each Friday, the numbers grew, 8, then 10, then 14 and the Friday before Christmas day 25 people shared. Men and women, young and old, black and white, together we shared.
From John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness, to Mary’s “Yes” and Joseph’s “Yes” to the angel Gabriel, and continuing through Advent into Christmastime through Pentecost, there we were, every Friday night, praising God.
What resonated with me most was the hope each person had that the Lord would see them through their difficult times. Many were sleeping in tents, in the woods, or in the corner of a parking deck, or in their car, but all had the hope that the Lord would see them through.
This was very humbling for me, knowing that I would return from the cold winter night to a warm house, a comfortable bed, and a hot meal. It reminded me of the verse in Corinthians about God’s faithfulness.
As I began to read it aloud from my Bible, nearly half the room recited it with me, word for word, from memory! On the streets, this is a verse they cling to.
That night, we discussed God’s faithfulness, that we will not be tried beyond out strength, and that the Lord will provide a “way out”.
That night, something wonderful happened at our little homeless bible study. And we knew that the Holy Spirit was with us. As we were about to conclude, one of the men, a large, imposing man who had spent most of his life in prison, asked if he could sing.
“Sure!” was the reply from the group.
Then, big Mo, with the voice of a trained opera singer, tattered clothes, dirty, disheveled look, clinging to his bible with chapped hands, sang the most beautiful version of “The Impossible Dream” that I had ever heard. A modern day, homeless, Don Quixote, believed with all of his heart, that God is faithful and won’t try us beyond our strength and will give us a way out of troubles that might seem impossible.
Now, whenever I begin to think that my trials are too much to bear, I think of big Mo, and remember fondly the lessons from that Homeless Bible Study.
To find out more about the work of Springtime of Hope, click here.