Once a month, our church spends a Friday afternoon downtown serving at the Austin Baptist Chapel, AKA: the Soup Kitchen. I've been going for the last couple of years with our team. On any given Friday we feed from 2-300 people. Last week we fed 313 ...and almost ran out of soup! The Soup Kitchen feeds people 365 days a year and has been doing it for 20+ years. The meal is 100% free and donated by local Austin businesses and people.
Fridays typically starts with fish and bread and fruit and a dessert and soup. The fish usually runs out after 200 or so causing grumbles through the line.... I'm hoping to have some video later today that we shot last week, but for now, a question.
Who are the poor?
At the soup kitchen, I take the tickets from guests and exchange them for a tray of food. I try to smile and be friendly. Most are gracious and thankful. Some are not, but thankfully they are in the minority. This past week as I served I tried to take notice... One of the most difficult things about poverty is invisibility. Pain causes us to look away - not our pain - but their pain.
I saw the addicted. I saw the mentally ill. I saw the (illegal and legal) Mexican day workers. I saw the prostitutes. I saw the elderly. I saw the angry. I saw the abused.
I saw people: People just like me with hopes and dreams and hurts. Somewhere along the way they missed a break and fell through a crack in society. Some of them made a bad choice and repeated it until they had nothing left. Mainly though, I saw people without options and diminished hope. They are skeptical and afraid and jaded. They are living on the edge. One minor injury could prove to be fatal. One more bad storm or bad break and they could be gone...
Who are the poor? They are people just like you and me...