Sight from the Blind

 “The most common thread among the chronically homeless is loss of family.” This was such a powerful discovery. Before my experiences of this week I would have guessed the common thread of homelessness was substance abuse or challenged mental health.

Due to the loss of any sense of community, be it school or church or family, your motive for living well and pursuing the hard and right choices of life fails. When you find yourself without a support system it becomes hard to care well for yourself.

“Just imagine if you were trying to fall asleep on the concrete slab underneath I-35. You’re never sure what person or what animal will be standing over you when you wake or how many of your few personal belongings will be left by the morning. Maybe it’s better or easier to just not sleep. But you must sleep. We all must. It’s pretty reasonable to understand why someone would seek drugs or alcohol to help them just pass out for the night – just for a little sleep.” - Charles, staff at CF!V

That night turns into a week and the week into a month, into a year. Now you are not only without family but you are an addict, rejected by the world. It’s the only way you know to live to get by. It’s a downward spiral with no hope in sight. No plan. No future. And worst of all, no one cares.

The organization Mobile Loaves & Fishes developed a life transforming residential program to love and serve our neighbors who have become chronically homeless in Central Texas. It is called Community First! Village. It was designed to provide affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for those in desperate need. By providing housing in exchange for a small rental fee paid for by resident’s social security or disability income these neighbors are rediscovering dignity and community. All the neighbors in Community First! Village work within the campus and have found loving community and purpose in life again.

I’m excited to celebrate that 36 teenagers from our Student Ministry committed their mornings of Spring Break to serve with this Village. Additionally, 10 adults gave of their time, some even spending vacation time from work, to serve. Projects ranged from cleaning homes to property beautification to mending fences. But it quickly became about much more than pulling weeds.

“I realized that EVERYONE has potential. God gave everyone talent, even if it seems unexpected.” – Lily Cook, senior

“I used to think the homeless were irresponsible and lazy. But I have a different view now. Everyone there works hard for what they have.” – Michel Light, sophomore

“I realized that we don’t need as much as we think we do.” – Rylee Lofthouse, eighth grade

“Since they live in micro-homes and tents, the shared kitchens and bathrooms seem like a good way to help people build community and togetherness and how to love your neighbors.” – Lexy Bardin, junior

Toward the end of our time in the Community on Tuesday a sweet older, wheelchair-bound, legally-blind neighbor was sharing the goodness of God throughout the story of her life. She was so optimistic and positive despite devastating circumstances. One of her strongest statements was, “As I lost my sight I knew God was giving me blindness as a gift, because then I couldn’t see the negativity on people’s faces.”

Mind. Blown.

The sight of a blind neighbor was undeniably insightful. Love your neighbors, yall! #becauseJesussaid

Rachel Parkhurst