Learning to See and Serve the Invisible People of our City

It’s a bitter-cold Saturday morning, just before dawn, and Fernando Lopez is trudging along Lexington Avenue, his shoulders hunched and hands jammed into his pants pockets in a determined effort to stay warm. He has been up since just after 4 a.m., when a stiff breeze jolted him awake in the subway station at East 51st Street. Lopez had been sleeping upright on a hard wooden bench, eight steps up from the 6 train platform, just past the turnstiles. Air gushing in from the tunnels makes it feel even colder by the tracks, which is why he settles a level higher. When you live outdoors, though, you’re never really sheltered. Lopez has been in this state for hours, while most New Yorkers have yet to rise and greet their weekend... If people look at Lopez at all, it will be for just a moment, because they — we — have trained ourselves not to notice.
— http://interactive.nydailynews.com/2016/01/meet-one-of-nycs-3000-homeless/index.html
We instinctively know that love leads to commitment, so we look away when we see a beggar. We might have to pay if we look to closely and care too deeply. Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money, and our time. When we love we cease to be the master and become the servant
— Paul Miller, Loved Walked Among Us
When He SAW the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd
— Matthew 9:36

They ride the same subways, sit on the same park benches and walk the same streets that we do but often go unnoticed.  But unlike most of us, those place are not merely means of transportation or momentary rest but a place to sleep at night.  More than 3000 men and women call the streets home, preferring a subway car or a cardboard box on a sidewalk to what has become increasingly, at best a hard bed to find and at worst unsafe and even dangerous environment among the shelters of NYC.

And if we are honest, many of us turn a blind eye to their plight in the midst of our commutes and travels around the city.

Don't Walk By is a yearly opportunity that help New Yorkers see the city differently. This is an annual outreach where volunteers sign up for a Saturday in February and walk through the streets of Manhattan to offer every single homeless person or those in need food, warm clothing, a blanket and the opportunity to get off the streets and enter a shelter and residential program through an alliance of organizations.

Some of you reading this might think, "I don't live in Manhattan" [and I know Brooklyn is THE borough] but this outreach provides the opportunity to see my commute, workplace and neighborhoods differently and then put into practice some of the lessons learned from the opportunity in the daily experience of living in NYC.  Second, it will also provide access to resources to have on hand when you see, engage with and maybe even befriend those who many have turned a blind eye to or worse moved subway seats to avoid.

Jesus didn't turn a blind eye to our needs, and He continues to see us in our brokenness and care for us in the midst of it.  Don't Walk By provides the opportunity to see the city with His eyes and be His hands extending His care to those in need around us

You can sign up HERE and find out more HERE