To measure the success of a compassionate ministry such as Building Hope (BH) is difficult, if not impossible. A person who utilizes the services of BH may only need our assistance for a period of time; once they find the inner stability needed to face the world they may move on from BH. A higher number of people attending the centre may mean more in crisis, whereas lower numbers may mean welfare cheques have come out. Measuring success at BH has been hard, but a short time ago a true success story was revealed.
A middle aged man who lives on the street was at the centre one day and made a rude comment to one of our lady volunteers. Volunteers at BH are a true blessing from the LORD, and yet their unconditional love is often challenged by those who have been emotionally hurt. I observed the man, and his comment to the volunteer, and quickly addressed the situation.
I talked with the lady to see if she was okay, and she brushed it off rather casually. I did tell her that that behaviour was not accepted at BH and that I would be talking with the man. I assured her that we (both the compassionate and the needy) care for her and value her service to the poor. I then approached the man.
This gentleman was somewhat large and with two of his friends, but I knew our standard of Jesus and love would see me through. I felt confident to say that, “that type of comment was wrong and our volunteers do not deserve that type of treatment.” He did not deny the comment, but said I misinterpreted the comment. The comment could have been taken two ways, but I knew the comment was used to amuse he and his friends, and so I continued to talk about the comment and how it probably hurt our lady volunteer. This discussion continued on for 2 or 3 minutes and then I decided that I had made my point. At this time, I felt I had defended our standard to love those in the facility, but I did not feel I had reached this individual or changed the behaviour of the facility. However, success sometimes needs a little patience.
Within 5 minutes the individual went to the lady and apologized for his comments.
“Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible and humane life.” Wikipedia
I was so proud of this individual. I did not tell him to apologize, but he did. This man had the humility and the courage to go to this lady, in front of his friends, and try to restore the relationship.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus start their preaching ministry with the words, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). BH provides a place where people can come and be valued. At times we mess that up, but in relationships, success is not in being perfect, but in repentance and grace. We must strive to love perfectly, but when we fail, do we have the courage to repent?