A student recounts her first experience with Student Ministries
The first time I met Ron he won me over. He was squatting against a fence, talking with a friend of his. He was nothing but a gentleman as he laughed and joked with my friend and I. Amidst conversation, he walked down the fence and came back, holding his fist out to give me something. I held my hand out, hesitant. He uncurled his fingers in laughter and a small twig of flowers fell into my glove. Ron had picked me flowers. It wasn’t just the flowers that got me but it was the fact that he had no home, no food, and no job. It was all he had to offer and he had given them to me.
When I started with NightShift, I was one of the few who had never been before. I was doing it honestly, with a bit out of reluctance. I knew that I wanted to be a part of some ministry but was not sure where I was supposed to be. I knew a lot about NightShift and had helped with homeless ministries before. My hesitation soon dwindled when a group of friends had decided to volunteer and so I decided to give it a try, at least for the semester. I had used one of the worst excuses out there to volunteer. It was on one of the first outings— walking around the streets of Surrey, handing out hot chocolate and candy bars—that I found NightShift to be unlike what I had pictured all along. The night began with anxiety, grew into excitement, and turned into a kind of joy I had never known. Despite my nerves I felt a new tug at my heart for those who were struggling with meeting their everyday needs like food, shelter, and clothing. In just my first encounter, the people were starting to change my heart and life. I no longer saw it as I had preconceived, of me going out and “saving” these people. Our little group was simply going out into the darker areas of our city and spreading a little bit of God’s love with a cup of hot cocoa.
In one of my first classes this semester, a professor encouraged us to look at people and society the way God sees us. While that can be taken many ways, something dawned on me that I never had really grasped before: God views us in our brokenness and our hurt, not anything else. Whether we like it or not, we see people a lot for their outer appearance and often a reflection of sin is evident in that. We all sin though; and a sin that puts you out on the street is no less severe than an addiction that is not outwardly marked.
The people are no different than any one of us, their struggles are just often more obvious in their lives. Some have families living far away, not able to support them because they lost their jobs. Some have addictions that have swallowed every aspect of their life. Some have homes but can’t afford a meal every night. Some have been off the streets but don’t know what else there is besides this life.
While these are just the things that I have learned from “reluctantly” joining a team, I encourage you all to step out this semester. Maybe begin by looking at your time at Trinity from the outside in. It can be become so common to be a part of an outreach that we don’t realize how unique the opportunities are that we have.
Getting those flowers from Ron was something that I will always remember. While my view of those living on the streets was already changing, his generosity and humility took my eyes off finishing the task and I began simply loving people for who they are. Wherever your interests or uncertainties may lie, try it. You never know how God will use you to change others, or use others to change you.