The very day after the Dependence Day Cookout at NSCBC, I was in downtown Beverly crossing Cabot Street headed for the Dollar Store to purchase a bin to hold this recent event’s odds and ends. As I crossed the street, I heard a very gravelly voice holler in my direction from a store stoop. I kept my focus on the task at hand and ended up in the checkout line to pay for my purchase. As I observed those behind me in line, I recognized a couple that had attended our Dependence Day cookout. I quickly noticed that the young woman was wearing the cross necklace she had made at our cookout! She was dressed in red, white, and blue and wore this necklace of the same colors. I took a moment to thank God for the guests who had come from the Beverly Downtown Dinner and prayed that this couple had absorbed Angelina’s message of our dependence on Christ for all of life.
I exited the store and crossed Cabot Street again, only to hear once more that distinct voice yelling in my direction. I suddenly recognized that voice as belonging to another cookout guest – Glen. I walked in his direction and stopped to chat. He enthusiastically thanked me for the terrific cookout and his “finds” at our free give-and-take shop. He loudly proclaimed, “If I had a piece of paper and something to write with, I’d make a big thank you sign to the churches in Beverly for all they do and hold it up for everyone to see.” I was tremendously touched by Glen’s grateful heart in the midst of his daily struggles.
I have encountered and known a number of homeless or shelter people in my lifetime. They are often unkempt, unhealthy, and avoided by others. Yet they desire the same things we desire—acknowledgment, respect, love, and inclusion. At my former downtown church, while gardening I would sometimes come across an individual asleep on the stairs or in the shrubbery. I once told a man he could not be sleeping on church property, but there was a shelter on River Street in Beverly. He did not argue but instead thanked me for calling him “Sir.” It takes courage to live a marginalized life, but it also takes courage to accept an invitation to a cookout outside of one’s downtown comfort zone and to feast with people not yet known.
We are blessed so we may bless others. And as if that is not enough, God blesses us again through a grateful recipient’s words and actions! Thank you to the Shared Dinner crew for the Dependence Day Cookout and also to those who serve regular monthly downtown dinners. You are providing sustenance in a number of ways to a very appreciative population when you serve and share the love of Christ.
Nanette Maden is a member of North Shore Community Baptist Church. She serves regularly with our Evening Shared Dinner & Service and has a heart for connecting with the marginalized in our society so that they may know the love of Jesus.