February 8, 2009


God has no home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

He lives in the streets with the homeless men, women and children of the fifth largest city in North America. Most of us would be happy if he’d just stay there, ministering to “those” people.

But in GOD IN THE ALLEY by Greg Paul, God the Homeless intrudes into the lives of most of us, the rich.

“I’m not rich!” you’ll exclaim. I would certainly take up the same cry if I’d never passed through a Chadian refugee camp in northern Cameroon; driven through downtown Lagos, Nigeria; strolled a bazaar outside of a Western hotel in Monrovia, Liberia; helped lay the foundation for an orphanage in Haiti; spent a night in a homeless shelter in Washington, DC; or passed out food in a soup kitchen in Minneapolis.

But I’ve done all of those things and by the standards of most of those few places, I am rich beyond measure.

So? “Here it comes, another guilt trip! Well, let me tell YOU, Mr. Guy…”

But before you tell me off, can I add that we are rich because Greg Paul has shared a bit with us about his ministry in Toronto. We are rich because he asks us to join him in any way we can. You can’t just drop everything, move to Toronto and join God right there? Some people DID, but if it’s not your calling, then send money. Right now, charitable giving is down and ministries everywhere are pulling back because of tight funding. Others are retreating under the onslaught of tremendous need and climbing numbers – there are more people suffering in North America today that yesterday.

We are rich.

If you can’t go to Toronto or send money, you can do something in your own state or province. Do something in your own city or town. Do ANYTHING. Pray – that will cost you nothing, only time on your knees, though we can do that because Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the price for that priviledge.

When I was in the refugee camp, there was nothing material that I could do that would have changed that hellish place. Dump trucks of cold, hard cash would not have solved the essential problems of the camp. Sin has always been the root of suffering and donations won’t cancel sin (Martin Luther pointed that out once).

So – I sigh a sigh of relief! A couple minutes of prayer here and there for the poor of Toronto should admirably discharge my duty! Before I finish my breath though, I need to remember that old saw: “Prayer doesn’t change God – it changes us.” (As far as I can tell, C.S. Lewis never said this – whoever wrote the script for the movie, “Shadowlands” said it…) Once I start with that homeless woman with the shopping cart on the corner, I might find God calling me to pray wider and wider and wider. I may abruptly find myself on the streets of Toronto, in charge of a ministry in the name of the God who has no home in Toronto, Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Minnesota, Minneapolis...

http://www.sanctuarytoronto.ca/ (Greg Paul’s ministry)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28916152/ (Overwhelmed by homeless…)

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