The purpose of this blog is to tell you the story of my journey to fulfill the call of meeting the needs of the oppressed.
I have a spiritual urgency to do more and be more. I feel the need to draw closer to God. He has given me the assignment to reach His people. To not only tell them about His goodness but to also supply their need and build relationships. I can no longer stay in my bubble while so many people are hurting, hungry, homeless, etc. I can no longer just give money to a charity. I MUST do more. I MUST reach the people right where they are. I MUST know their needs for myself. I MUST meet their needs as best as I can. I MUST change my mindset and use my resources to its’ full potential.
I am blessed to be a blessing. I can’t hold on and horde all the blessings God has given me to myself. One day I found myself wondering why I didn’t have certain things and why it felt like my life was on pause. I heard the Lord say, “How can I give you more if you’re constantly holding on to stuff”? That became a pivotal moment for me. I have to release what is in my hands in order to receive more of what God has for me. Now, I look for ways to bless somebody.
I invite you to travel with me as I set on this conquest of loving and blessing those society has forgotten about. I pray that this blog will inspire you to do the same in your community.
After our long layover in Munich, we then hopped on the plane to Johannesburg. OR Tambo International Airport reminded me of any metropolitan airport in the States as the plane descended. I could tell OR Tambo was HUGE. As the plane landed and circled around the tarmac, I saw Virgin Mobile, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, British Airways and a host of others. When the plane made its’ finally stop we hopped on a bus that took us to the terminal. Once outside I IMMEDIATELY felt the heat!! Back home in North Carolina the temperature was around 30 – 40 degree Fahrenheit. I knew it was going to be hot but it put my body in a little shock. I felt sweat beads forming on my forehead and back. The bus ride was probably a 5 minute drive to the terminal. Once inside my body was relieved.
There were plenty of shops, restaurants and local kiosks inside the airport. There was even a shop that had a giant replica of Mr. Nelson Mandela. I mostly slept on the flight from Munich so it was good to walk around and stretch my legs. The gate was opened aired and the breeze felt good. My mind drifted as I wondered what everyone back home was doing. They were probably sound asleep since it was 8 hours ahead Eastern Standard Time.
The announcement came that our plane to Botswana had arrived. We hoped on another bus to where our plane was located. I felt a little nervous since it was a small plane. This plane was smaller than commuter planes back in the States. We found our seats and was buckled in. The flight attendant sprayed pesticide spray as she walked through the cabin. I held my breath as long as I could. I didn’t want to inhale whatever toxic chemicals were used to manufacture the spray. I closed my eyes as we took off. I was still nervous about this plane as we went through a few bumps while ascending. Once the plane leveled out, I was able to open my eyes and watch the city become smaller.
I dozed off and was awakened by the landing. We made it to Botswana!!! Now the fun can begin but there’s this one problem. Customs wanted us to count all the shoes we were bringing into Botswana. We did and the shoe count was short somehow. The inventory sheet that, Deb, our leader was given didn’t correspond to the amount of shoes that were counted. They also wouldn’t let a fellow mission member bring the bag of shoes he was bringing with him the day before into the country because he didn’t have the original paperwork with him. Also, Customs claimed that Samaritan’s Feet didn’t fill out all the paperwork needed and there was a fee of $200. Samaritan’s Feet did a mock mission trip the previous year and this paperwork wasn’t needed then… After feeling like an eternity, Customs finally allowed us to pass through.
Mark of Bush Ways Safari met us at Customs and helped carry our bags to the jeep. We met our driver, OT, and we were off. Our lodging for the night was at Maun Lodge. Once we were all checked in we decided to meet the two guys for dinner later that night since they were already settled. It was a glorious feeling to take a shower and lay in a bed!! I set my alarm for dinner and I was out like a light!!
At dinner we discussed where we were from and all about our travel arrangements and what brought us on this mission trip. Joe D. was from Georgia and Joe M. was from Canada. While the three of us were from Charlotte and volunteered with Samaritan’s Feet regularly the Joe’s found out about the trip through Google search. We continued small talk while we ordered our food. Then when we became familiar with each other, Deb proceeded with her bible study for the night. We all chimed in on what her scripture meant to each of us. It was great see how one scripture can mean so many different things to people.
Dinner is served. Everyone ordered something different and passed samples around. The winner was Joe M.’s fish. The fish was flaky and had the best seasoning. The food slowly disappeared off our plates and that was a sign that it was now bedtime. We had an early morning. The drive into Bush Country would take hours so we all had to be checked out no later than 7 am.
I was blessed earlier this year to go to Botswana on a mission trip with Samaritan’s Feet. Samaritan’s Feet is located in Charlotte, NC. Samaritan’s Feet “serves and inspires hope in children by providing shoes as the foundation to a spiritual and healthy life resulting in the advancement of education and economic opportunities“. This year Samaritan’s Feet celebrates its’ 15 year anniversary. I have volunteered with Samaritan’s Feet locally but this was my first time traveling abroad with them. I was excited and ready to GO!!
We were scheduled to fly straight to Johannesburg, South Africa from JFK. There ended up being a snow storm in New York and our flight was cancelled. The travel agent associated with Samaritan’s Feet found another flight that would send us to Munich, Germany. This flight was good because it broke up the time of being in the air but it also resulted in a long layover. The three of us decided to make the best of it by going into the city to sight see. We found a walking tour that fit our time schedule!! We dropped our carry on luggage at a baggage holding center. It was next to an Edeka grocery store. This was a full blown grocery store that had a wide arrangement of fruits and vegetables, milk, chips, food and everything else you can think of. This is a great idea for all airports to have. I like the concept. It would be beneficial for those that take vacations out the country for an extended period of time. Or for people like myself that try to eat all their food in their refrigerator to prevent coming home to expired foods.
The first obstacle was figuring out how to get there. We learned there was a public transportation train that would take us straight there. We exchanged currency brought tickets and hopped on board. The train ride was about 20 minutes long. Bethany and Deb chatted most of the way. I zoned out and took in the scenery. I watched as the two transit officers conversed. I wondered what they were saying as they shared a joke. I looked at how their houses were built and how they were designed. I people watched as they got on and off. I wondered where they were going: to work, to school, home, business meeting. I could tell we were getting closer to the city as the scenery changed from houses to apartment buildings. As I looked around, I got the feeling of New York City or downtown Atlanta.
Since we arrived on a Saturday the pace was slow which was good for us 3 American tourists!! We had some lag time before our walking tour began. We admired all of the beautiful buildings and architecture. We grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant. The specialty was of course bratwursts. I opted for the bratwursts covered in sauerkraut. It was pretty good the sauerkraut was a little different but good. It had an eclectic flavor and it didn’t pucker my mouth like the American brand does.
It was time to get to the location for the start of our tour. We received our tickets and waited for our tour guide. We had the honor of having Jack. He was AWESOME!! He know all the cool spots and told us about the history behind it. To our surprise (but not really, lol) there was a Starbucks. During one of our intermissions, we got a cup of coffee. We think our full stomachs were making us sleepy. The last stop on the tour was to a Michael Jackson memorial site. It is located in front of Bayerischer Hof Hotel. Jack stated Michael would stay at that particular hotel whenever he visited. Jack brought to our attention how clean and nice the memorial looked and how the candles were still burning. He went on the tell us that there are 2 Michael Jackson fan groups located in Munich and every 2 days they come together and clean it up and add new photos. The government often threatened to have it removed but it never happened, lol.
We hopped back on the train and headed back to the airport. We retrieved our bags and grabbed a bottle of water from Edeka. We got to our gate and waited for our boarding time. The food and the walking tour finally did us in. We all stated that we would sleep the entire flight to Johannesburg. As soon as we found our seats, headphones went in our ears and our eyelids were closed!!
On December 2nd I had the honor of volunteering with David’s Backpack. David’s Backpacks for the Homeless is a grassroots, faith based ministry set out to give love, support, basic necessitiesof life and most importantly share God’s love, mercy and grace to our homeless and less fortunate friends. They walk the streets, go to homeless shelters, tent cities and poverty stricken areas. They deliver backpacks filled with personal hygiene, first aid needs, snacks, socks, Bibles, words of encouragement, blankets, food, tents, tarps, clothes and so much more to the streets of Charlotte, Monroe and the surrounding areas. The ministry works daily with our friends in the “tent communities”. The founders Mary and Brian take our friends to their doctor’s appointments, social service visits, assist in getting them approved for housing, family visits along with showering them with love. “It’s not about a hand out, it’s about a hand up”. It’s about rebuilding one’s dignity, faith, self-worth and purpose says Mary.
I have attached some photos but let me tell you, the photos do not give it justice. It is something you will have to see up close and personal for yourself. Our friends are sleeping on the ground. Only a few blankets separate them from the dirt. They chop wood and build fire pits to keep warm and cook food. Their houses can range from camping tents to tarps. They depend mostly on the kindness of others to supply them with what they need.
Our friends in these tent communities range in different ages and ethnicities. They are all willing to lend a hand and help each other out. Brian mentioned that one tent community had to be moved that week because the Police found them. A member of another community stated that he will help out with the move without hesitation and without being asked. Brian and Mary took us to another community and we saw the trees were cut down and debris from the tents were scattered. Brian informed us this community will later become a Super Food Lion and only one friend remained on the land. There was no mention of Food Lion suppling our displaced friends with housing.
I don’t know what the weather is like where you live in December but here in North Carolina it can get below freezing. Last night we had our first snow/sleet mixture of the season. I can only imagine how cold our friends are. I pray that they found a shelter last night. I have been in prayer for God to show me what else I can do to help. I want God to use me as a vessel to get my friends off the streets for good!!! I challenge you to find a tent community in your area. Or if you pass someone that is homeless on a regular basis, befriend them. Talk to them. Get to know them. Find out their story. I can assure you they are no different from you.
Breakthrough Harvest Church’s Missions Ministry will continue to partner with David’s Backpack until all of our friends are off the streets. If you would like to donate you may do so at David’s Backpack website. The more we all join forces together the quicker our friends will have homes.
On Thanksgiving Day 2017, I had the honor to serve the homeless with a hot meal from The King’s Kitchen in downtown Charlotte, NC. The King’s Kitchen is a nonprofit restaurant and bakery that trains and equips men and women who are considered to be unemployable. They provide leadership and life-skills training to transform those referred to as at risk into leaders of the Charlotte community. The King’s Kitchen
I volunteered with a few members of my church, Breakthrough Harvest Church, our Senior Pastors Troy and Nicole King, and a host of other loving people. While there I heard stories of how some found themselves living on the streets and how The King’s Kitchen helped them.
But one person in particular touched me. His name is Ronnie and from the moment I met him I knew he was filled with the Lord. He knew the Word throughly. I told him that he was “preaching good”. He smiled and said he wasn’t called to preach but to love God’s children. He shared his most personal stories with my Pastors and I. I could feel my eyes tearing up. We exchanged telephone numbers and he told me where he lived.
From that moment I felt ashamed. The problems I am currently dealing with is no comparison to what he deals with on a daily basis. Plus, he had a smile as he spoke. He continually said “The Lord provides all my needs”. I wish I could do more for him. I wish I could get him off the streets tonight!!
The Lord spoke to me and stated, “This is why it is so important for you to not mismanaged the resources I have given you. The resources are not just for your pleasure. Someone is in need of what I have given you. Will you do what is needed? Can I trust you?”
Tears rolled down my face. Outreach/Missions is my calling but I haven’t been doing such a good job up to now. As God as my strength, I will do better. I will give more. I will sacrifice more often. I will be mindful of my spending. NOW is the time that I FULLY walk into the assignment that God has for me and to do it with boldness.
P. S. Pastors Troy and Nicole King canceled their Thanksgiving plans to volunteer. I don’t know many Pastors that would do that. I don’t know many people in general that would do that. But, that’s the type of leaders they are. Their mission is Love God, Love People, Live Life!!