The first time I meet Allen he was dirty, stinky, and had quite the foul mouth. I was afraid to touch him and honestly didn’t want anything to do with him.
We had just started Mission U-Too Bastrop and I had no idea what I was about to learn. You see when I first started volunteering I had no problem reaching out to the people who looked just a little different than me. But a man who looked and sounded like Allen, a man I couldn’t see much hope for, I wasn’t super excited to have him around. In all honesty, I was afraid he was going to scare everyone off.
Like I said…I had a lot to learn.
I was clearly not focused on the right thing, and eventually had to face the hard question of why I was really serving at Mission U-Too. Was it really for those in need, or just to make myself feel better about doing a “good” thing?
Allen kept coming around. He even started helping us cook each week. Some might say that Mission U-Too was making an impact on Allen, which it was, but in reality Allen was making a huge impact on me.
As God continued to put Allen in my path, I started getting to know Allen a little better. Every week for the next year we just loved Allen for who he was. And we began to see change. And let me tell you, I know this is not anything we could have done without Jesus; it is Him who began to change Allen.
When the Bastrop fires started Allen was ready and willing to serve 24/7. Through serving with him day in and day out I got the opportunity to learn a little more about Allen. I did my best to keep encouraging him and pouring into his life, as did other Mission U-Too volunteers. But it wasn’t until almost a year after the fire before I really started to really understand how Allen ended up on the streets.
When you serve in this environment and capacity it takes time…God’s time…time to build trust, to build a relationship, to let someone know that you really do care for them. It takes a love that is beyond yourself.
One weekend about a year after we first met Allen, we took Allen on a weekend family getaway to Houston. On this trip Allen began to open up a little more. I realized that Allen had not been mentally capable to care for himself throughout his life. In fact, his mother had taken care of him until the day she died. When she died he didn’t just lose his mother, he lost his sense of normalcy and security. At this point his uncle was awarded trust and moved Allen to Bastrop so he could help take care of him. Several years later his uncle developed Alzheimer’s, and with no other place to go or anyone to care for him, Allen found himself on the streets.
So now here is a man in his 60s with mental illness and handicaps that really doesn’t know how or have the real capability to care for himself. A man that was kicked to the curb, and no one took the time to really try and understand him, or even help him.
You see as I trusted God and pushed into Him, He begin to put people in my life to teach me how to love as Christ loves us. When we do this with a desire to praise and serve the Lord without placing judgment on someone it allows God to work. And you get to be a part of something greater than yourself.
Allen now has a place he can call home and people he can call family. We call him family. By asking the hard question and asking for a change of heart in why I was serving at Mission U-Too, God opened my eyes to see past the dirty exterior and really love someone for who they were.
As you truly care for and share the love of Jesus with others, watch as He begins to use you for His glory and His kingdom. You will be blessed beyond anything of this world.
Jonah Beyer has been serving Mission U-Too since 2010 and is the President of Mission U-Too. His family lives and serves in Bastrop, Texas.