What's on the SOS wish list?
We have a special guest post from a young woman, Margaret Cates, who was an SOS camper many years ago. She has a story which she recently shared with our full-time staff. It represents one of the great motivations and goals of our ministry: the reconciliation of relationships across all boundaries to the glory of Christ. My name is Margaret Cates, and I am a 21-year-old who is now looking back on one of my many invaluable SOS experiences that occurred when I was 13 years old. I had to share this story with the SOS staff, as they were unaware that one a small instance years ago has since affected my life.
In the summer of 2007, Big Dog came to our worksite during lunch and brought a 40-year-old homeless friend, Anthony Gordon, for a Q & A session that allowed my team to hear Anthony’s story, understand why he was homeless, hear his personal opinion on being homeless, etc. Big Dog does this regularly as a way to expose kids like me to the reality of homelessness, a way of helping his homeless friends, and an opportunity to pray over and love those that we otherwise would not have met.
To make a long story short, I ended up forming a friendship with Anthony; I ran into him only 2 weeks or so after the first time I met him, reintroduced myself (he remembered me because I asked a million questions and prayed at the end), and we somehow- not by coincidence but by God’s intentions- ran into each other almost every month until I graduated high school. My family became friends with him…my mom had meals with him and would drive out to Winchester and beyond when we would not see him for several months; I brought him inhalers and supplies in the winter; he would call us at home; we took him to MAM and Streets (when our relationship was close enough) in order to show him possibilities if he wanted to go to rehab, etc. He had a very special place in my family’s heart!
Every single time I saw Anthony, I thanked God for our introduction and that I, a random, naïve teenager was blessed enough to continue to form a relationship with our sweet friend. I am eternally thankful that I had a chance to demonstrate Jesus’s love and that I could be one of the glimpses or exposures to Christ in Anthony’s life.
Anthony passed away this fall, and my whole family was disheartened and concerned, wondering if Anthony ever reached a place of comfort or even obtained a sense of belonging. No one will ever know the state of Anthony’s heart when he passed, but what shines beyond the sorrow is the light that God poured into this man’s smile and into our relationship. He blessed my life immensely, and I pray that I had some sort of impact on his. I am so thankful and humbled that I possibly could have intrigued him to Jesus or even brought a smile on his gloomy, lonely days.
In all of this, give SOS the “thank you.” Even though they didn’t foster mine and Anthony’s relationship, they blessed me with this opportunity that I would have never found elsewhere. All of our experiences at SOS are extraordinary in themselves, but I encourage everyone to see how we can take these experiences and let them bleed into our much more ordinary lives. The relationships that are made with staff members, sponsors, homeowners, neighbors, etc., are each a blessing, and we can all look for ways to continue them. It’s amazing how much gratitude and love one feels by opening your heart and pouring into these people, but we, too, will feel nourished and even more blessed!
Praise be to God! Margaret Cates
We've discussed on our blog before that poverty is fundamentally a manifestation of four broken relationships (with God, man, self, creation) and Maraget's story has some insight for us and some encouragement for us as we continue to partner with homeowners, neighbors and volunteers here in Memphis. On our wish list for Christmas this year? More stories of gospel-driven reconciliation to the glory of the one who descended into our poverty that we might become rich in Him. May you have a Christmas season full of the Light of Christ.