I stood on a train platform on a cold day in Texas, looking at the map and trying to find the route to my destination. A stranger introduced himself as Marcus and gave me directions.
Feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I asked Marcus if I could buy him a cup of coffee at a nearby fast food restaurant. He agreed. When we arrived, we were hailed by three of his friends, men who were obviously down on their luck. So I bought five cups of terrible coffee to warm us up, and moments later, Marcus and his friends boarded the train with me. They rode with me all the way to where I was going. For 45 delightful minutes, Marcus and his friends told me their stories. Marcus even gave me a hug before I disembarked.
I felt the presence of Jesus on the train as I spent time with four strangers who were made in the image of God. I got much more blessing than I gave. But it would have been so easy for me to blow past Marcus, and take advantage of the wireless Internet on the train to answer emails about serving the poor – instead of ministering to the people God put in my path that day.
The people of God need to put our faith into action. We need to spend as much time actually building relationships with and serving the poor – whether their poverty is spiritual, relational, or economic – as we do reading and talking about these issues. That’s the route to our destination!