“Location, Location, Location” is the mantra that often refers to prime real estate or “up and coming” surroundings. So when people learn that the homeless shelter I operate for children and families is located in the fifth wealthiest county in the US, they are surprised.
Our location comes with unique challenges. While many accept us and are dedicated to helping those in need, others prefer that our homeless population remains out of sight. Many assume that those who are in vulnerable situations are worthless. They attach a permanent stigma to a group that is experiencing very temporal situations.
When I meet single mothers who are in school and working with little social support, I see future entrepreneurs with big dreams and goals. Two years ago, a formerly homeless person became an elected official for the very town where he had no place to stay.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my own bout with homelessness. I entered seminary as a homeless student. I wanted to pursue an education but didn’t have the resources to pay for housing in Georgia. I remember meeting classmates and taking my student ID picture while worrying about where I would sleep that night. I ended up sharing an air mattress with a stranger also new to the area.
Today, we are both successful service providers for people who need guidance and compassion. So, I answer Nathanael’s question in verse 46, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” with an emphatic “Yes!” Great things can and do come out of locations that are looked down upon. “Do not judge a book by its cover,” or a person by their condition, is another mantra we need to remember often.
When was the last time you accepted an invitation to “Come and see” (v. 46) and it changed a skeptical assumption you had?
Lord, I am thankful that you do not judge us by outward appearances and superficial assessments. Please continue using uncommon experiences to teach the wise. Amen.