Feb 04, 2021
A Little Walk for a Big Problem
Most Canadians love winter. When the snow falls softly and covers everything with a pure white blanket, we smile and boil the kettle for a hot drink. Donning our toques, winter coats and mittens, we venture out to shovel the driveway, build a snowman or make snow angels. We love to toboggan, skate and ski. Of course, when it is really cold outside, we prefer to stay inside where we can snuggle up and read a good book or watch hockey.
It is wonderful to have so many options. We truly are fortunate to live in a country where we can enjoy these comforts. Sadly, not everyone does. For whatever reason, there are people in our cities who do not have a warm house to live in or a safe place to sleep.
Homelessness is a hidden problem in many cities. The reason is twofold. First, many homeless people do not look homeless, and they do not want to be seen as a homeless person. There is often a huge weight of shame on their shoulders. Second, in most cities, shelters and warming rooms are not funded by the government, leaving the responsibility to the community to take notice and do something to help.
A couple of months ago, I met a gentleman who was homeless. He lost his job and was evicted from his home because he could not afford to pay the rent. He and his wife were living in a tent. Their children had been taken into foster care. He was determined to get a job and a place to live again so he and his wife could welcome their kids back into their family. He did not want anything from me, except prayer. Would I pray that his family could be together again? Of course. It was the least I could do.
This story is heartbreaking. But the reality is, it is just one of the hundreds of stories that are currently unfolding in our cities. The shelters are full, the warming rooms are too. There is no room in the Inn. Sound familiar? Mary and Joseph had no place to stay the night Jesus was born. And for the first few years of his life, they were homeless, travelling from city to city to keep Him safe. Jesus identified with the homeless as an adult as well. He did not own a home and often relied on people to invite him in for a meal and a bed. He understood what it was like to be vulnerable because society dictated one's status. He knew what it felt like to be betrayed, hurt, and hungry. And yet, Jesus chose to hang out with the least popular, most broken people who would never be able to offer him anything but gratitude for his kindness.
Kindness. Be kind. Love your neighbour. We have heard this many times over. But how can we show kindness to strangers in need if we do not know who they are?
We can begin by supporting our local organizations that focus on helping the homeless, the hungry and the hurting. The Coldest Night of The Year is a family-friendly walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness. This national initiative invites you and me to raise money for our local shelters, warming rooms, and programs by walking in the cold at night. Just a few kilometres to show support of those who do have the same resources we do.
This year, we cannot gather in person, but we can still walk with a family member or two. We can still support the Coldest Night of The Year, virtually, by signing up at www.cnoy.org and finding the city nearest you, so you can support your local organizations. They need our support financially, so they can continue to do the practical work of providing services to people in desperate need of shelter, food, and warm clothing. Some of these organisations also help individuals get the help they need so they can get back on their feet – living a healthy and productive life again.
By the grace of God, we can do our part. Please pray and consider how you can support the Coldest Night of the Year. It’s cold out there. Every dollar counts, every prayer is heard, and everyone deserves to be cared for. February 20th 2021 is the official date of the fundraiser. You can find all the information you need on their website. Please share this with your friends and family.