Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fiction Fix: Love Your Neighbor!

The following story was inspired by several times I've helped out at a homeless shelter my church volunteers at once a month. It's an amazing experience, and, though there are several differences between Tiffany and me, what she feels towards the end is exactly how I feel when I'm there, so it's not necessarily "fiction" in some ways.
It's an amazing experience, and a great way to reach out to your community.


Love Your Neighbor!
by Prism

Tiffany slumped in the passenger seat of her mother’s old green sedan and glared at the various buildings as she and her older brother, Matt, cruised down Pickens Avenue.

“I still don’t get why I have to go!” she huffed. “You know, Matt, you’ve changed. You used to be so cool, and you stayed out of my way. Now you’re, like, dad number two, always bossing me around and getting mom and dad to make me do stuff with you!”

Matt glanced at her with a “haven’t-we-talked-about-this-a-million-times?” look.

“The Bible tells us to help out those who don’t have everything we do, Tiff. Jesus helped all sorts of people, both rich and poor. Not only will the people at the homeless shelter be befitted by the food we’ll be serving them today, but you will discover the joy of giving and learn to be thankful for what you have.”

She grimaced and examined her mauve manicure. “Matt, you sound ninety, not nineteen. Besides, I could have done that stuff at a movie with Jessica. I’d be overjoyed to just hand over the money to that poor teenager with a terrible fashion sense that’s always behind the ticket counter.”

Matt put on his signal and made a left turn. “We’re almost there.” He glanced at the rearview mirror, and then back at Tiffany.

“You know, I’m not the only one who’s changed. When you were thirteen, we used to help at VBS and other outings. You just loved helping out with the kids!” He nodded to a red brick building. “Here we are.”

“That’s the place? That…that…dump?!”

He turned off the ignition and faced her, his dark eyebrows turned downward, and his green eyes practically shooting sparks. “How would you feel if you lost everything- our house, your oh-so-fashionable clothes, and your family? Do you really think people like Jessica would be hanging out with you? Do you think you’d be loved when you lose everything that makes you the “popular” girl in school?”

“Of course I would!”

“No, I really don’t think so, Tiffany. We have been blessed with so much, and last summer taught me a lot about how blinded we are to those who need encouragement. Remember that puppy you found once, lost and neglected?”

“Of course! That poor thing was shivering in the rain, and I could see his ribs-”

“But we found his owners, and you discovered that he had been lost for a whole month! Remember how happy he was when he saw his owners? Well, these people have been lost all of their life. They need a meal, an encouraging word or smile, and hope. They are in desperate need of a Savior. You need to show them His love.”

Tiffany sighed and tucked her hair behind her ears. “Okay.”

He opened the door. “Let’s get this party started!”


Tiffany grimaced as she pulled on plastic gloves. “These things sure are comfy.”

The younger girl next to her, Lindsey, smiled. “You get used to them after a while. The worst part is pulling them off.”

Mrs. Patterson, Lindsey’s mother and head of the shelter, breezed in through the double doors and address Lindsey and Tiffany.

“You girls need to head out. We are pretty crowded in this kitchen, and we’re short of servers. Tiffany, is that right?”

After Tiffany nodded, Mrs. Patterson continued, “Your brother is already out there, so you’ll have someone you know. My daughter would be more than happy to show you the ropes.”

“Come on!” Lindsey’s blue eyes shone. “This is going to be so much fun!”

Tiffany soon found herself with both Lindsey and Matt, as they showed her how to get the food and take it out.

“Just think of each person as Jesus. You’d do your best for Him, right? So look past their past or what they may be like and just reach out.” Lindsey shrugged. “I was here once, with my mom. We were so hungry and cold, but I’ll never forget the lady who came and gave me a teddy bear and a fleece blanket. She invited us to come here, and that’s where we were both saved. We both made sacrifices, and my mom worked so hard! We knew that God had helped my mom get a great job and a nice house. It was really hard, and we felt like we were fighting the tide, but we made it, together. You can even pretend every person here is my mom and me a couple of years ago, I mean, if you want.”

“I can do that.” Tiffany firmed her chin and plunged into the crowd, balancing two plates in her hand.

The next hour passed like a minute. She was swept away with the hearts of her comrades and the ones they were serving. One elderly man was so thankful, that he sang a song just for all of the workers. She spent some time talking to a woman with a little toddler, and took them to the back room with tons of clothes. With her fashion expertise, she was able to pull together an outfit that looked amazing and really brought out her eyes.

Tiffany chatted and laughed with Lindsey as they passed out cookies and drinks. Matt and she exchanged winks and smiles several times. All of the love in that one building made Tiffany feel as if her heart would burst!

By the time they had finished stacking the chairs and sweeping the floor, she was really tried, but satisfied.

Matt put an arm around her shoulders and led her to where he had parked the car. “Okay, tell me, did you like it or what?”

Tiffany smiled. “All of the workers are amazing, and the people who came had stories that made my heart break! Lindsey isn’t that bad, and I found out she goes to my high school, even if she’s in a different grade. I’ll have to search for her!”

Matt laughed. “A simple ‘yes’ would have sufficed.”

“I do have a question, though…”


“When’s the next time we’re going?”

God Bless,

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