The skies are blue, the sun is hot and the people gathering are hungry for more than just food. It’s Saturday in South Dallas, and this is the recipe most every Saturday morning as several individuals from the Waxahachie area band together to feed, clothe and pray for the homeless and those less fortunate.
Pastor John and his devoted crew from Runner’s Refuge are the backbone to this needed ministry known as Samaritan’s Purse. Thomas and I had a desire to be part of what they were doing, so we signed up to serve on the third Saturday of each month.
I’ll never forget that first Saturday as we turned the corner and saw the aged apartment complex we’d be serving from. The surroundings would be ominous and a bit scary to someone who doesn’t have a heart for this type of ministry. Thomas and I look at it as the mission field it is, with so many in need of someone who simply shows kindness to them.
We volunteered at the breakfast table to serve oatmeal, fresh peaches, Gatorade, coffee and hot chocolate. The biggest decision anyone had to make that morning was what flavor oatmeal they wanted or how many sugar packets they needed for their coffee. I shook lots of hands and gave plenty of hugs, as did all those we served alongside that day.
Other volunteers found blessings in serving at the clothing window and the shower trailer. Granted, it only grew hotter as the day grew longer, but it was so worth it to see and hear how much better they felt with clean clothes and a shower. I’ll never forget the one sweet lady who danced while she stood in the clothing line, and the smile that never left her face. I just know that’s how it’s going to be when we finally make it to our forever home – smiling faces all around.
As morning turned to midday, the group made their way across the street to an open field where they were encouraged to take a seat in one of the many folding chairs. Pastor John brought a message of love and salvation to those who were hungry for the Word. Afterward, a full lunch was served to all those in attendance.
As the day came to an end, I felt privileged to be asked to help walk a lady to her apartment. I’ll never forget her name – it was Sandra, just like mine. With a walker, she treks to and from the Saturday gatherings. To get back to her home, she must walk across the length of the field and then walk up a full flight of stairs. Not so easy to do when she’s trying to balance herself with a walker. But, that just goes to show how important these Saturdays are to her, too.
“A day in the life” of a homeless person looks different to each individual on the outside looking in. Many who are homeless are excited to see a face that smiles back at them, while others still find it difficult to trust anyone but themselves.
So many times as Thomas and I take to the streets of Navarro, Ellis, Tarrant and Dallas counties, I often wonder if we’re going to run into someone we actually know. Many times, we will see someone we’ve fed, clothed or prayed with a second or third time. I’d give anything if we didn’t have a population of homeless or those in need, but since we do, we feel compelled to hit the streets as often as we can, to do what little we can to make their lives just a wee bit better.
“A day in the life” of those serving is filled with so many blessings. Thomas and I have found in the time we’ve been together in the ministry, the smallest things to us mean the most to those we serve. For me, the tears fall freely each and every time we start back home from one of our many ministry opportunities. Our hearts are full because we know we are doing what we’ve been called to do – be light in a dark world.
Sandra Skoda Johnson is an award-winning journalist who now travels the county and beyond with her husband, Thomas, as they grow T&S Ministries, a ministry they created to help the homeless and those less fortunate.