The above picture is a photograph of Chris Lomen. Chris Lomen is an amazing young man who is rollerblading 4000 miles in an attempt to raise money to rebuild schools in Haiti. You can learn about his quest by visiting here.
I met Chris on the third day of his trek that began on June 29 when his friend, and co-journeyman, Chris Hamby called our church to see if we had a place the two of them could stay at. They explained that they were rollerblading across the country to try and raise money to help Haiti and I didn't hesitate to say they could stay at my place. Why would I? I mean c'mon here are two young guys traveling across the country and one of them is rollerblading the whole distance and they are doing it not for themselves but to help people in need. That was a no-brainer. Well really it is a no-brainer because Stacy and I have attempted to continue to practice and live out a life of hospitality that God has called us to. We were blessed to hear their stories and to get to know them and give them some shelter and comfort on their journey.
Part of what the two are doing is making contact with churches in each of their destination stops and seeing if they can help by providing a place to stay, etc. It seems like a no-brainer that churches would be the place to call and that churches would be the part of communities that would reach out and help people like Chris who are doing such a great thing. No brainer, right? WRONG!
(1) Over the 4th weekend it figures that many church offices would be closed and that is what they ran into as to be expected.
-I want to address this quick. Part of the issue with churches/pastors is that they tend to not be available 24/7 to those outside of the church. This isn't always because they don't want to be contacted, but because they fear putting their home phone/cell phone on the message machine because of people who often perpetually hit churches up for money/support. I can understand that, but how many people do we fail to help who in an emergency situation are unable to reach someone? With Google Voice there is now no reason why someone couldn't put that number as a contact and have it linked to your cell phone and controlled by Google on what gets through, etc. Anyway, that was a tangental soap box.
(2) After reading this blog entry, I was utterly disappointed in my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I quote the response from one church to their inquiry: "we raised money for Haiti months ago, so we don’t really have a reason to help you."
-Don't have a reason to help you? Are we serious? We have to have a cause to help someone? Doesn't the Gospel compel us to help those in need? Not to mention the fact that they weren't asking for money. They were asking for shelter and food. I can almost guarantee someone in that church had an empty bed that they could have slept in and easily could have added food to their meal to provide for two more.
Thankfully, Chris and Chris have found shelter most of the time and have only had to camp once or twice and thankfully their are hotel owners in these towns who give shelter, but how disappointing to see the church failing to provide hospitality. I continue to pray that Chris and Chris will be watched over by God and that God's love will continue to be poured out in response to what they are doing, but now I am also praying for God's Church. I am praying for forgiveness for all the times we fail (including myself).