'Doesn't matter,' as homeless lament, tugs at Baptist staffer
ATLANTA (BP) -- Some interactions change your day. Others can change your life. Just ask North American Mission Board staff member Deborah McCutchen.
McCutchen's interaction with a homeless woman under an Atlanta overpass as part of NAMB's annual Day of Service has profoundly impacted her Christmas preparation.
NAMB's staff had been spending the day Dec. 6 serving Atlanta's homeless population in partnership with 7 Bridges to Recovery, a ministry to the homeless through The Garden inner-city church.
As McCutchen handed a lunch to a homeless person who was living in a tent under one of Atlanta's many bridges, she offered to pray for the woman.
"It doesn't matter," the woman told McCutchen.
"Oh, it does," McCutchen said. "God loves you. He sees you right where you are and He loves you."
The woman burst into tears, as did McCutchen. "Can I give you a hug?" McCutchen asked. The woman reached out and pulled McCutchen to her and continued to sob as McCutchen prayed.
"She was so hopeless," McCutchen said. "She was so sad. She had resigned herself to the life she was now living."
McCutchen was one of 130 NAMB staff members who participated in the entity's annual Day of Service. During the Day of Service, NAMB intentionally involves staff in Southern Baptist ministries that help neglected neighbors, communities and children in the Atlanta area.
McCutchen, a ministry assistant who serves in NAMB's mobilization and marketing group, was so profoundly moved by the experience that her family has decided not to buy one another Christmas presents this year and donate the money to buy meat for 7 Bridges to provide for the women and children the ministry is housing.
"We sit in our offices and talk about being missionaries," McCutchen said. "But out there you get to be the missionary. You get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. You get to see what difference a meal can make. You're on the front lines."
7 Bridges is a ministry that began in 2001 when pastor 7 Wells (yes, the number 7) started reaching out in the places where Atlanta's homeless, prostitutes and addicts reside in order to share the Gospel and help them see how Jesus can restore their lives. The ministry provides food, shelter, other necessities and spiritual guidance for men, women and children who are in the restoration process. The ultimate goal, Wells said, is to prepare those they serve to minister faithfully themselves.
"My big vision is to end homelessness in Atlanta," said Wells, who took the name 7 after his conversion in prison as a testament to God's promise to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). "This shows me that the body of Christ is opening its eyes and getting a taste of it so we can make that possible."
NAMB staff served the 7 Bridges team in a variety of ways -- by preparing lunches for the homeless, distributing food and praying for the homeless, decorating the church for Christmas, helping with a construction project and helping with a women's Bible study, among other activities.
"It is always a great privilege to serve others, especially in the name of Jesus and for the Kingdom," said NAMB staff member Ty Salter. "I am reminded that we are more like Christ when we are serving others and giving."
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. For more information about 7 Bridges, visit 7bridgestorecovery.org. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).