“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” —Deuteronomy 15:10
When you think of a homeless person, what image comes to mind? Are they male or female? Black or white? What kind of personality do you think this person has? What’s their story?
What we’ve found in working with all types of people is that it’s really true that each person is unique. Labels and stereotypes don’t adequately describe giant groups of people. When we start replacing generalized terms like “the homeless” or “the poor” with individual names, faces and stories, we start understanding why God is so obsessed with the individuals that make up these marginalized people groups. Did you know the Bible contains more than 300 verses dealing with God’s deep concern for the poor? These individuals are always on God’s mind; therefore they should also be on our minds, too. Each person we meet, whether they’re rich, poor, employed, unemployed, black, white, young or old deserves to be seen as a child of God. And when we begin to see people this way, God begins to bless us with deeper understanding of his character and his amazing grace.
We’d like to introduce you to a friend of ours who might help illustrate this point. This is Diane.
Before Diane, our homeless friends received haircuts sporadically — volunteers would show up every now and then, but no one could help meet this need on a regular basis. In 2014, we gave 168 haircuts, and in January and February of this year, we gave zero. Then in March, we met Diane, a cosmetologist who was homeless and lived in Tent City.
Soon after discovering Ransom Cafe, Diane began coming each Monday to give haircuts. From March to July, Diane has give 211 haircuts — more in five months than we were able to give the entire year of 2014. When people offer to tip her, she directs them to our donation box. Her positivity and generous spirit brings life to a place that can seem hopelessly dark some days.
Almost every time Diane shows up to cut hair, she brings someone new with her.
“This one doesn’t belong out there,” she’ll say. “We need to help him get out.” She helps others get set up with a tent, a much more desirable setup than sleeping on the street.
It takes a special woman to earn respect and protection out in Tent City, and Diane has done just that. Although she has recently obtained housing, Diane still spends most of her time with her homeless friends. She is the “momma” of Tent City, and each week, she enlists new people to help her, reinforcing our goal to give a hand up instead of a hand out.
After she moved into her apartment, a friend of Diane’s asked her why she would still choose to help others when they couldn’t provide her anything in return. She replied that God has been so good to her and others helped her when they didn’t have to — why wouldn’t she pass along the blessing to someone else?
Diane is now a student in Ransom ReProgram, an 8-week job training program that helps candidates overcome barriers to employment. She hopes to continue to help with haircuts and even wants to train others through apprenticeship so they can make a better life for themselves.