Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Room in the Inn"

Nashville shares certain problems with San Antonio (and other cities). One that glares before me as I travel by bus around either city is graffiti. Yuck! The other is homelessness. Thank God, folk in both cities are taking steps to at least assist the homeless when the weather is inclement. In S.A. there was SAMM "San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries". Among other features, SAMM runs shelters where the homeless can sleep on nights when cuddling up under a bridge or on a bench or in a doorway might result in serious illness or even death.

And during the fierce winters of Middle Tennessee in Nashville there is "Room in the Inn". Several churches got together in the 1980s to begin this program to provide overnight shelter in the church buildings. At the time the program commenced back then, the Grahams were members of Donelson Christian Church (Disciples), a participating congregation, and I can remember helping out at the church on a couple of night s when DCC had signed up to do "Room in the Inn".

Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples) is also a member church, and I've done my part here by assisting in preparing, serving and cleaning up Saturday breakfast for about ten homeless men back in November and December. ECC takes in homeless on the second Friday night of each month from November to March. Last night I sort of "switched gears" in my participation. I went to the church late Friday afternoon, so that I could ride in the van to the downtown gathering place. This van actually belongs to Nashville Youth for Christ, but they "store" it on the church parking lot. In exchange ECC uses it to transport homeless men from the downtown gathering spot to the church and back. The fellows sleep in a large room on the top floor of the education building.

The reason I wanted to ride in the van was to familiarize myself with it, to make the driving back to downtown on Saturday morning easier. It also allowed me to know the location of the gathering place. This is on the south side of downtown, near the old downtown Sears building that is now the home of the rescue mission.

When we got the guys to the church, and they had put their belongings up in the sleeping room, we set out a supper for them (and later us). It was baked chicken, wild rice and slaw. There were also cookies, Valentine candy and cake. Indeed, the table cloths and decorations were pink, red and white due to the holiday, the eve of which they came into our facility.

After supper there was a video for those who wanted to spend the evening watching a movie before bedtime. Some of the men went pretty much straight to bed down and sleep. Associate Pastor Michael Lehman and another young man of the church arrived before eight o'clock to spend the night. Michael and I went to put gas in the van, as it was indicating a tank almost empty. Then I read the newspaper and listened to the Friday Night Opry before retiring for the night.

Alarm clocks went off, awaking me about five o'clock. I went downstairs, unlocked the doors and started brewing coffee. Margaret Nourse, whom I had assisted with breakfast the previous times, showed up and began working on a delicious breakfast for the guys (and us). After breakfast I drove the guys in the van back to the place where we'd picked them up the evening before. And thus came to an end, for a month, ECC's involvement in "Room in the Inn".

I can hardly wait for next month's turn for us to do "Room in the Inn"! It gives me a strong sense of doing something worthwhile for others. I like that sense! It's a lot like I felt about my participation in Kairos Prison Ministry back in Texas. I'd sure like to get involved in Kairos here in Tennessee! Or go into a prison here as a chaplain. Lord willing. . . ?

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