When it comes to my mom, there’s one thing I’m sure of:

She’s the most annoying woman in the world.

Since I want more than coal for Christmas this year, here’s something else I’m sure of:

She’s also one of the kindest people I know.

This was evident Sunday night. As soon as I got home from working, I could tell she was a little down about something. Being the caring daughter I am, I asked what was wrong.

With concern in her eyes, she explained her encounter with a homeless man at the gas station on her drive home from work. She normally stops at a different one, but she had a feeling to go to this particular one.

The man was sitting outside by the front door, with temperatures in the 40s, holding a cat that was bundled up in a sweater. He had a hooded sweatshirt on. Next to him were food and water dishes for his cat, and a back pack.

That was all.

His name was Ryan. The cat’s name was Chaos.

There was change scattered on the ground around him, as if people had tossed it, instead of handing it to him.

He said he was bipolar, and chose to live outside because he couldn’t stand being surrounded by walls. He was looking for a ride down south to warmer weather.

My mom bought him a couple of sandwiches, and the only drink he wanted- water. She also gave him a few things from her car that she thought useful.

But more importantly, she looked him in the eyes, said God bless you and told him she would pray for him.

We may not all have extra money to spare, but we all have a smile and a kind word to give.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never even said hello to a homeless person on the street.

In my defense, I’ve never lived in a large city where they’re more prevalent. But still, I’ve passed by my fair share.

These are people too. They have names. They have a story. They have feelings.

After telling me about Ryan and Chaos, my mom made a good point (for once).

Her point:

There are so many churches that go unused throughout the night. Why not turn these into homeless shelters?

Before you start thinking about all the reasons why this wouldn’t work, think about reasons it would.

The Bible tells us to open our hearts to those less fortunate. We are to take action in faith, not to be mere passerby when we see someone in need.

Have you ever slept even one night outside in the cold with only a sleeping bag to cover yourself? Alone, scared and hurting?

Me either.

I appreciate huge churches with infinite money invested in them to ensure a beautiful place to worship. But, I appreciate even more churches that are simply built. Physical surroundings are just that, physical.

There’s a small church in my hometown that offers a warm place to sleep and a hot shower in the winter for those in need. I’m not sure exactly how the whole process works, but it does. Different volunteers stay there each night to help out and prevent any problems. The people staying there must be out by a certain time in the morning, and may come back at night.

This is a great idea that I pray more churches can accomplish.

You might be thinking, well many homeless people brought it on themselves through drugs, alcohol and whatever else. You might also think they are lazy and depend on others instead of working for themselves.

Why help, or even talk to people like that?

Well, Jesus talked to people like that.

He talked to prostitutes and tax collectors. He was a friend to the worst of the worst. Instead of judging like we all do, he offered them kindness and forgiveness.

As my Nana likes to tell me if she catches me judging someone, by the grace of God go I. People with a home are no better than those without homes. After all, we all have the same Father.

I’m sure there are a million reasons why turning a church into a homeless shelter, at least for colder months, wouldn’t work. But if there’s even one reason why it would, why not try?

If you take only one thing from this post, please let it be this:

Be kind to people. Be especially kind to people who have nothing to give you.

God bless!

For interesting insights about this topic, see below.