|Overflow Shelter at First Baptist Church of Winston-Salem|
Photo by Jordan Green, Yes Weekly
A few weeks ago I received an email notification stating I had an unread email. I logged into my email account and the first subject to catch my attention was “Emergency Help Wanted”. This email was sent by a fellow classmate. I quickly opened my email to find out what was wrong. The email stated that First Baptist Church was setting up an overflow shelter for homeless people to come in from the cold weather overnight and they desperately needed people to volunteer working it. At first, I was a little hesitant to agree to spend the night at the overnight shelter, but I could not ignore that push I was feeling to go.
One Friday I went to First Baptist Church along with three other classmates to volunteer for the overnight shift. During the time we were checking in guests for the night, there was one gentleman who asked one of my classmates and I to sing. Out of nervousness, we declined and instead asked him if he could sing. He replied “no, I sang”. We encouraged him to sing and he began to sing a worship song. This man had an amazing voice. It was as if the angels from heaven were singing in the church. Who would have known I was in the presence of such an amazing voice?
A few minutes later the singing gentleman asked me to sing “Falling in Love with Jesus”, and without thinking I opened my mouth and started singing. The entire gym got quiet and all eyes were on me, but I did not stop singing. I closed my eyes and continued singing. After I was finished the singing gentleman asked me to sing it again, and again, and again. After a while the singing gentleman, my classmates and I were harmonizing in song lifting up the name of Jesus. It was such a powerful moment that I will never forget.
After we finished singing, a few guests that were staying for the night shared with me that they are musicians. There was a gentleman that plays the piano, another the drums, and a few who could sing. I was in the presence of men who love the Lord and desire to once again serve God with their gift of music.
What would have happened if I had treated these men as nothing but strangers on the margins of society? The Bible warns us to be careful when we entertain strangers, for we may be entertaining angels unaware. Now I am not saying these men were angels, but in them was the ministry of worship through music that has been lying dormant a long time. All it took was sharing the love of Jesus through actions and song to discover I was surrounded by men hungry for God and willing to serve.
The next time you are in company of strangers who may not look like you, not in the same economic class as you, or not as educated as you, how will you respond? Will you embrace them with the love of Jesus through your actions? Will you share a song, time, food, or will you decide not to follow Christ's example and cast them away?
Justin Thomas is an intern for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina and a third-year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.