What Jesus Looks Like on a Cold February Day

It was a busy day.  I picked up my two younger kids thirty minutes before my third. I’m a self-proclaimed multi-tasker and thought I had plenty of time to run a couple of errands. I stopped to get gas in my van and as I pumped, I shook my head at the huge tent the local grocery store had erected in the middle of the parking lot for Valentine’s Day. I could see a sea of red and pink from the pump.

I pulled to the corner and that’s when I saw the sign. I have seen homeless people near downtown panhandling, but this was a young couple holding a cardboard sign and bundled baby, both being blown by the February wind. My son, in the passenger’s seat, looked at them and then at me. His eyebrows knit in confusion as he read the sign. “Mom?” his one word held a thousand questions.

0014homelesscanyouhelp

Immediately I fumbled for my wallet and rolled the window down. I had $2. I handed it to them and the look of gratitude was immeasurable. I apologized as I slowly pulled away, “I wish I had more.”

But I did have more and as I pulled into the road, I saw my bank next to the gas station. I checked my watch and the closing window of time before I had to pick up my oldest from track practice and I turned around.

“Mom, what are you doing?” my kids asked when I pulled up to the bank.

They were both grinning as if to say I knew we could do better than that.

As I rolled down my window at the ATM, I said, “Okay, how much, y’all?”

And my kids simultaneously said an amount much higher than I had planned.

I hesitated.

“Mom, it’s almost Valentine’s.”

My heart leapt at the generosity that comes easily to my kids and I thought of my word for the year. And how this unexpected moment was another opportunity to choose love, the real kind.

I glanced back at the ridiculous tent and remembered reading Americans spend more than 18 million dollars on a made up holiday. The tent was bursting with people who wanted to give love and the family standing just feet away certainly needed it. Oh, irony.

I withdrew money and whipped my car back around.

“This is awesome,” I heard from the backseat.

The couple looked confused at seeing my van again and I tried to communicate with their broken English. I gathered from our limited conversation they had trouble with their Green Card. “We hunger. No money for rent.”

“Where are you from?”

Romania.

I handed them the wad of money, wondering if I was falling into a trap or breaking some kind of unwritten code. But in the moment, it didn’t matter if they were being honest. Anyone who was in their position (either by luck or choice), needed a little extra love.

I started to pull away and stopped. I called out, “What’s your name? Can I contact you somehow?”

Then I saw tears in her eyes as she shielded her baby from the weather. “You want to help us?” She said slowly.

Oh, yes, I do. And I want my children to know this is what we do. We love others.

The story is still being written, but in the parking lot waiting for my little track star to come off the field, I emailed our dear Russian friends (if you’ve been a long time reader here, you might remember them?) and told them about the family and asked if they knew anyone who spoke Romanian.

Within ten minutes, this precious family was connected to one of the only Romanian Church and Pastor in the Houston area.

At dinner, my kids shared the story with their dad. I smiled and my heart was full, not because we did something good, but because something good happened to us.

“I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ Matthew: 25-35-40

Today, Jesus had the face of a young Romanian family.

What will He look like for you?

Photo credit

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This week at (in)courage I wrote about how it feels to be held by God.

Comments

    • 1.1

      Caitlin says

      These are the blog posts. These are why I read your blog. God used you to help change my marriage. This also. This is reality. It scares me in the best possible way. Thank God!

  1. 3

    Robin says

    That is awesome! You inspire me. I’m going to pray for this family and I hope we get to hear the rest of the story.

  2. 4

    says

    The Spirit has brought tears to my eyes … thank you, Kristen, for following His lead, for connecting this family to community, for modeling active Jesus-love for your children, for sharing this all with us.

  3. 5

    Melissa N says

    Thank you for showing us what Christianity should actually look like. Forget the church potluck dinners and crafts fairs and such-if we all took this example to heart and put all that energy into feeding his sheep/taking care of his lambs, what a different world we would live in….

  4. 6

    Michelle says

    What an awesome story! You are so gifted to be able to share without doing it for attention. Your heart and faith are an inspiration. And I LOVE that it thrilled your kids!

  5. 10

    Sara K. says

    Kristin, this is a beautiful example of what we all should strive to do. It is only a few minutes (and a few dollars) to us but what a blessing to that family!

  6. 11

    Sheryle says

    Aww, wow. Thanks so much for sharing this and taking the time to show God’s love to this needy family. Rejoicing with you that your kids got to experience it with you. How wonderful!! They will never forget it.

  7. 12

    says

    What an amazing grace we are given when God invites us to participate with Him in building his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

    I remember when you posted about meeting your Russian friends while at the pool. You are SO right! The story IS still being written.

  8. 16

    Marie says

    This is so beautiful! It really touched my heart because I love Romania and the people there. For over ten years, when I was single, I would go for a 2-3 weeks and help in an orphange there. I also worked in really remote villeges and with what even the Christian romanians called the “untouchables.”
    God gives us a knowing in our spirit when it is right! And how wonderful that your kids could expereince it with you. Life isn’t about the hussle and bussle but about finding the hurting and wounded in our day to day lives and showing Jesus. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!
    Oh, how my heart aches to go back to Romania.

  9. 17

    Angela says

    I love this. I firmly beleive God put you and that couple at the gas station together. He knew they needed help and he knew you would not let them go without it. I had a similar situation about a year and a half ago where a woman who was clearly distressed, approached me in a parking lot as I was contemplating my next errand. She was running from an abusive husband and had a three year old in the back seat. She had spent a few days in the local womens shelter but was trying to leave the state and get home to her mother, but she had no money. Like you, I was not sure if I was being scammed, but I gave her all the cash I had which was only$5, wished her well, and drove away to get groceries. Something came over me, and I knew God was presenting me with an opportunitiy to really make a difference for her. So I prayed, “God, if this is your will, bring her back to me, or help me find her” And so I began the search. I live in a major metro city, so I really thought finding her would be a shot in the dark. I headed back to the parking lot several blocks away, and on my way, I spotted her car driving the opposite direction. I spun around and followed her to another shopping center lot where she parked and began to sob. I knew she felt hopeless, and the more I talked to her, the more I realized, she was being honest. She showed me the vouchers for gas that the shelter provided but said she needed money for a hotel stay and food before she could reach her mothers on the east coast. I told her to drive behind me. I was going to my bank. I withdrew a rather large sum to cover hotel and food and a little extra in case she had car trouble. She was so grateful and even gave me her name and a number where I could call her to check up. I never did that, but I prayed that she made it there safely. I have never told anyone this story, I have always thought of it as a secret random act of kindess between God and myself, but your story reminded me of this and I love that you shared it with others to inspire. I love your blogs, keep up the great work! :)

  10. 21

    says

    What a great example for your kids! I almost got into an accident pulling a u-turn to go back and give a mother her children money! I am glad He kept me from that accident that day and blessed me to have an extra $20 in my wallet.

  11. 22

    celina boulanger says

    Thank you….Thank you and THANK YOU…

    i would love an update of how they are doing if ever you get one…i will pray for them…

    I always give when i felt led…and if i get scamed…i do not care…they will still be a witness to the love strangers can give out of kindness…and if GOD led me to give, then there was a reason and i trust that…honestly NOTHING makes me happier and puts me in a better mood than giving. However in this case, the fact you might have actually found them some concrete help puts me in TEARS…thanks for simply being who you are..and i bet anything..youir daughter was sad she missed out on the valentine’s day fun..lol

  12. 27

    Karen says

    That day will never be forgotten by them….by your kids…by you….by God!

    Today in my town, God looked like a number of single ladies who needed a special touch on Valentine’s Day. We had SO much fun!

  13. 28

    Karen says

    Oh…and this quote? FABULOUS….I am going to be using that! “I smiled and my heart was full, not because we did something good, but because something good happened to us…”

  14. 31

    says

    Bravo, Kristen! You made me cry too. My husband and I were driving last night, on our way to celebrate his 29th birthday dinner, talking about how we’ve both been feeling a nudge toward helping others–specifically through giving. What a great inspiration it was to me to find this post today. Your choice to love is definitely a great example of Christ to the world…especially to me. Thank you for taking the time to bless that sweet family. I’ve been to Romania, and the need there is oh so great. The fact that this little family found their way out is pretty incredible, especially since they don’t speak English.

  15. 34

    Cara says

    Oh, I’m crying. That is a wonderful story. I have felt God convicting my heart, preparing me for the way in which He will use me. I am becoming more and more convinced that it is related to helping foster children, and founding a peer to peer lending group with my church (a bunch of people put in “investing” money to a fund where low income people can come to apply for a small loan at a low interest rate to pay a deposit to get an apartment, get a reliable car to get to work, etc). This helped me see how we can help.

    Thank you. You and your family helping others has convinced me that I can help too.

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