a devotion for First Baptist Church Maryville
by Kelly Ferguson
“And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday” (Isaiah 58:10)
Last Friday, I spent the evening with families in the Family Promise program. This program provides temporary housing to homeless families who have children. The families rotate weeks staying overnight in participating churches. The churches host the families and provide meals for them. Other church congregations partner with host churches to help with hosting and meals.
Last week was my church’s week to host families, and I was scheduled to be there on Friday night. In my experience, Friday nights are usually tough, because everyone (both hosts and parents) are tired and the kids are often bored and irritable. This time, however, I followed a friend’s example and brought play dough, pompoms, markers, paper, stickers, and other items for kids could use to make a craft so they had something to do.
I gathered the children up after dinner and took them to a table to work on their crafts. There were three precious girls and a boy, ranging in ages from 4 to 10 years old. I unpacked the supplies, and they excitedly got to work doing whatever they wanted to do. As we worked on projects, we talked and got to know each other. It was fun for the kids and for me, and the parents enjoyed having time to rest. A former social worker once told me, being poor and homeless is stressful and corralling one’s children in someone else’s place is difficult. I can only imagine what that is like week after week.
As the evening progressed, I became captivated by these kids. We crafted all evening until it was time for them to get ready for bed and time for me to leave. We were sad the night was over.
I left the church and went out to my car where I sat for a while to type a text. Next thing I know the four-year old girl was knocking on my window. She was outside getting ready to go take a shower in our shower trailer, and she saw me sitting there. I opened the window and she asked me why I was there and where I was going. I started to tell her that I was going home, but the word “home” hung in my throat when I looked in her beautiful green eyes and realized she had no home. Then I thought about her beautiful art projects and realized there was not even a family refrigerator where her parents could display her pictures. I reluctantly told her I was going to my house, and even that was painful for me to say. I went home with broken heart, a different appreciation for my home, and a memory I will never forget.
Like these families, we are definitely not home and, thus, life is a struggle. Earth is where we live, but heaven is our forever home. Jesus reassured us as He left earth that He was going to Heaven to prepare a place for us. He said that while we are here we will have struggles, but He is with us in Spirit and will help us endure them. We are able to live through these hard times with hope and faith, knowing that when our life ends here, we will begin a new life with Jesus in the eternal home He made especially for us.