This has been quite a week at First Pres. We’ve had a busted pipe, blown fuses and an issue with a heater. One of our most long-time and beloved members had surgery. Several people are either battling or recovering from the flu. We tried to be at least a little bit helpful to the efforts of The Van and The Dream Center to offer emergency services to the homeless during single digit temp, but the need just seemed overwhelming and our efforts were a drop in the bucket.
Today we had the opportunity to help a single dad with four kids make his way to Sacramento where a sister with a house and a friend with a job are waiting. We fed them lunch (thanks to whoever put those pizzas in the freezer!), got them some snacks for the road (thanks to Lori, who dropped everything and hit the grocery store) and sent them off with a prayer, a group hug and money for gas. This family is not chronically homeless. Circumstances involving the illness and death of a family member along with some missed opportunities landed them in our city without enough money to leave. The kids are bright and well-mannered and ready to get back in to school and back on to sports’ teams. The two oldest girls (in seventh and eighth grade) are each 6 feet tall, so you can imagine they will be a welcome addition to whatever team they choose to join!
We will continue to be in touch and make sure they get to their destination.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the reason our little church is able to help in these situations is that some 15 to 20 years ago, a young man named Gary Gault came to the church’s door under similar circumstances. He was on the outs with his family and had been traveling trying to find some peace when he found himself without money or a working vehicle. As folks think they remember it, he stayed in town a few weeks and worshipped with us several times before he decided he needed to go back home and the church bought him a bus ticket back to Florida. Some years later, a letter from an attorney arrived in the mail. Seems that Gary had passed away, but his parents pre-deceased him and he had inherited quite a bit of money. He left that money in a trust to benefit First Presbyterian and a homeless shelter in Lawrence, Kansas (an organization a cousin of his had some affiliation with). The interest from the trust each year can only be used to help the homeless and the needy.
We have been hit up by many a scam artist at the church over the years–some of them are repeat offenders. But we always need to remember those words from the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews: Do not fail to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angles unawares.
May God continue to send angels unaware our way, and may we do Gary Gault proud.