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Each week my co-worker and I go out onto the streets in search of veterans who need assistance. Sometimes we find them, sometimes we don’t. When we do find them, they are usually already familiar with our services at IVOS (Innercity Veterans Outreach & Support). This is awesome.

When we meet the veterans, we chat about what is happening in their lives, the weather – especially important to those who are homeless - the programs we offer and what needs they may have at that moment. Nothing earth-shattering there. During all our walks, I notice those in the doorways, alleys, on stoops, and so many other places where they try to blend in and not be noticeable. One thing that seems so alike in almost each person we see is the expression on their faces. Blank, lonely, lost, and the list could go on.

On one recent walk, I noticed this little church nestled in between taller buildings and couldn’t help but think, it looks so lonely - so out of place between the tall buildings. It was obvious the church was cared for as there was no litter anywhere. As I studied it, I realized how much it had in common with those who come to our facility. I admit that I have walked down this street previously and never noticed this building. It is set back off the road and is non-descript. Nothing to make it stand out.

Our friends on the street have commented that they feel alone. They feel forgotten about at times. They look forward to those who go out each night wearing red vests - not just for the sandwiches, which obviously help a lot - but the main thing is that connection they get to make, even for 5 minutes. This church reminded me of that. It looked alone with people walking by every day. It looked forgotten, yet the grounds were well kept. It looked out of place. How many have walked or driven past without thinking about everything that building has to offer inside - a chance to learn more about Christ. The plaque said it was built in 1930. No doubt there are so many stories this beautiful brick building could tell from all those years.

The stories our friends on the street must have are no less fascinating. For most, being on the street is their safe place. Each person has a different reason for being there. All of them are heart-wrenching to those who take the time to listen. Really listen.

However, like that beautiful brick building, the hope inside is great. The hope that we have to offer to those that come for food, clothing, fellowship with each other, is also so great.

My prayer is that each person who comes will provide the opening and opportunity for us to share that hope with them. Please join me in that prayer - that those who come will be open to hearing about Christ and his love for them. Thank you!

~Elizabeth Sutherland-Beaven, IVOS Support

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