Raise You Up Ministries is made up of people from all different walks of life and different churches who have a common love for Jesus and a desire to show Him to our homeless neighbors. Jesus taught that when we give even a cup of water in His name, we do it to Him. With that in mind, we give food, clothing, haircuts, massages, pedicures, job and addiction counseling along with hugs, smiles, and words of encouragement to our neighbors (who just happen to be homeless).
I believe the success of what we are accomplishing is based on one word – relationship. We make it a goal to see each person as an individual and not just another homeless person among the many in Charlotte. Each neighbor has their own unique story. While they need compassion and not pity, they also need to experience a sense of value. By looking beyond the exterior presentation of an individual who is living on the streets, we look to see the “diamond in the rough”.
I met a man while I was serving food who had a t-shirt with a diamond surrounded by hands making a heart shape. I smiled and commented that the message on the T-shirt was profoundly deep. I explained that, like the diamond, we are all made of the same stuff – carbon. Tremendous heat and pressure turns carbon in to a diamond and it is the tremendous heat and pressure in the dark place of life that turn us into diamonds as well. That seemed to encourage him. I joked that from then on I would call him “Mr. Diamond in the Rough”. It is my prayer that I gave him hope by ascribing value to him and to his struggle.
We have seen the fruit of helping others recognize their own value in several ways. One small, but very significant indication is that some neighbors have gone from being served, to helping serve. The first time the neighbors started helping us set up and serve food, it left some of us teary eyed. It was proof that we were making an impact in their lives. They felt that they had something to contribute that was helpful and appreciated.
As for me, I honestly feel I have received more than I have given by serving with Raise You Up. I may bring a pot of chili to serve, but I leave with a heart of gratitude for all that I have. Not just material things, but so much more. I have deep, meaningful relationships and people who really care for me. I also am learning to love, to value a human life as an incredible thing, no matter the package it may come in. There is a diamond in each of us, simply because we are all created in the image of God. We are all unique and gifted, but sometimes life has obscured that. In forming relationships with the neighbors, I have the opportunity to see that in others, and see that in my own life. As I learn to value others, I have learned to value myself. That is where I have received more then I have given.
If you would like more information about Raise You Up Ministries, please check it out here!
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