On my family’s recent mission trip to South Carolina, my hubby and son were assigned to Site 2 to work on. The home had been recommended to our team and required a massive amount of work.
It needed a roof. The bathroom floor had soft spots and holes in it. You could literally see the ground. The sink was broken from where a family member had fallen on it after having a stroke. The kitchen had holes in the floor and ceiling, and had to be completely gutted.
I remember thinking how badly it smelled when I toured it. I later was reminded of those thoughts, when a pastor pointed out that poverty has a smell that you never forget. His words brought tears to my eyes when I realized I had missed that fact.
The homeowner, Eric, was a man who lived with his mentally disabled mother. She wasn’t very verbal and went to a day care every day while he worked. He didn’t have much to say as we walked through his house. His shirt was on inside out and backwards. He didn’t seem very grateful to me.
I later learned that when they went in to look at the house, he never made eye contact, and at one point, told them to do whatever they needed to do and went into a room and closed the door.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know if I would have continued with the walk through. Did he not care that help was coming?
But, people much wiser than I am were in charge. They recognized what I would have considered apathy, as utter and complete embarrassment at his situation. Imagine your house falling down around you with roaches running around and a bunch of people in nice clothes and cars asking for a tour.
He needed help. He wanted help. He was too ashamed to ask. Have you ever been there? Have you ever missed a chance to help someone who has been there?
Personally, I can answer yes to both questions.
The people from Salkehatchie, told him with the amount of work required, that he would have to do some of the tearing out himself, or they would never be able finish.
When our group arrived, he had done just as he had been asked. Turns out he was grateful for the help.
He was working during most of the work, so the kids didn’t get to spend much time with him, but the work they did transformed not only his home, but Eric as well.
When the entire camp toured the house on the last day, the change was amazing. There was a new roof, new carpet, new paint, new bathroom floors and ceilings, new cabinets and sinks, and a brand new fresh smell.
And perhaps most importantly, Eric was changed too. He had a smile on his face as he was presented with a Bible. He had on a clean shirt and he stood up tall. He even asked where the carpet came from so he could put some in one of the bedrooms.
It seems that the work done for him inspired him to continue it. Isn’t that amazing?
Eric’s story reminds me to be very careful and prayerful when deciding who we extend a hand to. Because sometimes those people who we judge as ungrateful or unworthy, are the people who need it most of all.
Perhaps you needed reminding too. I pray I never forget.
Have an awesome day!