I have been lucky in my ministry in becoming involved with people that have been on the edge of society, the suicidal, the depressed, the addicts, the abused, and the victims of society’s deliberate blindness.
The sad fact is that disaster can overtake anyone from any strata of society. I and my colleagues have worked to help concert pianists, builders, doctors, gardeners, engineers, those that left school unable to read or write and those that had university degrees. It made me realise just how fortunate I am, and just how close are the disasters that can overtake any one of us.
I will freely admit that there have been times when I, like my colleagues, have most certainly put my personal safety in great danger and when I have made myself more than vulnerable, but unless this is accepted, then it is not possible to reach out to those that need help most.
I work with those that have given up much, far more than I, in order to also help those I have mentioned. These are people that have left the security of their everyday lives in order to help those that have lost everything. It has been, and still is, a humbling experience to stand alongside those that could so easily be very wealthy in the eyes and standards of the world and yet these heroes have, as I have, endured the sarcasm and derision of some for not just the thought of helping others, but who for any act of kindness is seen as pathetically stupid. Yet the people that I work with have made the commitment to devote their lives in order to help those far less fortunate than they are.
When you live alongside those that need help, it is obvious that there is an unbridgeable difference between want and need. Those that I and my colleagues reached out to needed help of many differing kinds. Protection from physical violence and sexual and mental abuse, a safe house, medical assistance, shelter from the elements, a hot meal, financial advice, these needs seemed never ending, but more than anything else, they needed someone that cared enough for them, was prepared to listen to them and, after doing so, to offer them advice and help.
When a person’s uppermost thought is how best to commit suicide then there is nothing whatsoever in the world that they want, but much that they need.
“What do you want for Christmas?” This will be a question asked in millions of homes over the next weeks; perhaps the real question should be “what do you need for Christmas?”