Before I started volunteering with Ottawa Innercity Ministries, I lived downtown. Several days a week I would find myself strolling by a homeless person, refusing to stop and avoiding eye contact. I believed many stereotypes to be true back then – to me, it was ‘better’ for them if I didn’t give them any money or attention… out of sight, out of mind. As time went on, I found myself dwelling on my lack of compassion and willful ignorance more and more, “what’s my problem?” I thought, “I’m becoming so callous and indifferent towards my surroundings.” Thankfully, God placed a sense of conviction on my heart and led me to a whole new perspective on the homeless (all glory to Him).
Once I started volunteering with OIM, I began recognizing different street friends along my walks in the Market, and I could put names to the faces. According to God I was wrong by completely ignoring the homeless, but thankfully He allowed me to become another example of how He works mysteriously through us for the better. During my change in perception, I had no idea that I would end up serving the homeless on a volunteer basis. Now I find myself stopping to chat with several street friends on a weekly basis outside of volunteering. I believe He just wanted me to see that the homeless are just like anyone else – people with equal value to God, who are equally deserving of mercy.