The Difference…

From Emily Norris, Augsburg Lutheran Church

“Will you call for me?”
“Will you ask them?”
“Will you go first?”

Walking alongside our homeless population in Winston-Salem, I have witnessed time and time again the discrepancy between how my requests for assistance and my friend’s are received. Whether it’s requesting an appointment for a mental health screening, setting up a bank account, asking for a job application, or reporting a stolen phone, the weight my presence holds verses theirs is absolutely astounding. Whether it’s my skin color, my gender, my appearance, or my sometimes sassy attitude, my ability to receive service is expedited by my apparent and inherent class. Just earlier this week, one of Winston’s kindest and most chronically homeless showed up at my office asking for assistance. He apologized repeatedly for his unannounced visit, as he no longer had a phone to call first. While I assured him any visit from him was a bright spot in my day, he could not be convinced otherwise. Ingrained deeply in his worth is the bitter reality that so often his presence in the community is not only dismissed, but is simply unwelcome. Through a Government assistance program, many homeless are gifted a phone with minutes that reload each month. Unfortunately my friend’s phone was recently stolen. After hearing his story and collecting the necessary information, I was able to locate a number for him to call and suspend service on the old phone while he waits 7-10 days for a replacement to be mailed to his (non existent) address. After 20 minutes on the phone with the provider, supplying all the necessary information, he was getting nowhere. Passing the phone to me in a last ditch attempt to problem solve, I was able to secure a replacement confirmation number and delivery date in less than 5 minutes. Ridiculous. I provided the same information. The same story. The same (church) address. The reality is that the difference between us is that I was simply not him.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

(picture credit, His Chosen Servants Outreach Ministry)

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