Part Three – Learning to Love Like Jesus’s
If you haven’t seen the first two parts of Courtney’s story make sure to read Finding Grace and Finding Community.
Courtney’s story continues…
A few months ago, I went to the Love Like Jesus Picnic that Grace put on for the local homeless people, and that is where I heard a whisper. It was a faint one, but it happened.
Karen, who was also serving, walked over to the volunteers and asked us to get to know these folks, make them feel welcomed. I was nervous, really nervous because I’m not well versed in the Bible. However, I knew how to smile and how to make new people feel at ease. So that was exactly what I did, and with God, I would just rely on His words.
I walked across the lawn and heard a dog bark/growl in the distance. I followed that sound to a couple and introduced myself. We began to speaking about their dog, Doc, and their situation, and I thought, “Lord, here is my chance.” I asked them if they were afraid of Doc biting. They said yes, they were concerned as they were new to being homeless (only several days on the street). They informed me that homeless people come up to them all the time to talk or ask to pet the dog. My heart went out for them because like Doc, my dog is fearfully aggressive and has been known to show his pearly whites to strangers that approach him. I asked the couple, Matt and Maryanne, if I could bring them one of our dog’s muzzles so if they had to bring him around a group of people they wouldn’t have to fear him biting and possibly needing to be put down. This may not sound like a lot, but it means the world to people who love their pets. Dogs are family, regardless of whether you’re homeless or not.
They were ecstatic. I was even more ecstatic to have someone to relate too. That night I called them and said I would bring it by that week. They were so happy I called. They gave a shout out to Grace Church and said, “You all made us feel so welcomed, loved, and didn’t make us feel like scum.” My heart cried. Why would they ever think that? In my life God has shown me many examples of how easily it could happen to any of us. They were just one family, but God put me in their shoes that day. Any of us could be on the streets, whether we choose it or not.
I met them that week and we talked for a few hours by the river where they set up camp. They were saving up enough money with her job to move back into a temp house/motel. I brought them a list of contractors in the Reno area so Matt could call on these leads to see if any of them are hiring. He was a carpenter before he got sick. I also encouraged Maryanne to stay positive, that way, management could see how hard she works and give her more hours. As promised, I brought Doc a few muzzles, a new leash and a toy. All in all we sat together brainstorming ideas to help them move forward.
I recently called them to check up on things and they said they’re both employed and doing great! Praise God! They now have shelter with their dog. It’s not the Ritz Carlton, but it keeps them safe and warm. They are very grateful.
All in all my life has drastically changed within the last few months. God continues to place me in paths that He can use for His glory. He is opening my eyes to serve and get involved. He has made me want to know more about Him through the gospel and has encouraged me to share what I’ve learned.
The people I met at the picnic aren’t my charity case. They are my friends, and I love them. They love each other, care for others out on the street, love animals, and have hope in Jesus. They are me and you. They are God’s kids. I gained two friends and a dog family that day. Our common thread was dogs and Jesus. I will be eternally grateful for God’s whisper that day. I am the one changed by God’s love and mercy. I hope I continue to hear those whispers, even if they are small. I hope to always have that fire in me to obey. I pray that I can encourage people to come to Christ, the way others have encouraged me.