11/15/12

A Heart for the Homeless



A homeless man made me cry ... 

I am not a fiction reader, but I will always be one of Kathi Macias’ biggest fans. Her novels continue to remind me of my persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ and people who struggle in darkness, and also to reach out to those who do not yet know Him. 

Kathi's newest novel is Unexpected Christmas Hero, a touching tale about a woman whose dreams become a nightmare and the influence of a homeless man who befriends and blesses her.

Because I've had an approach-avoidance relationship with homeless people, the man in Unexpected Christmas Hero made me cry… and Kathi's words made me think about my own sphere of influence. I recalled the words of Jesus: "And the King will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" (Matthew 25:40). I think we need to remember these words as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas. Who can we bless in the name of Jesus?


I invite you to understand part of Kathi’s heart and why she wrote this powerful book.

Kathi, what motivated you to write Unexpected Christmas Hero? Was there a particular circumstance, or is this a burden on your heart?
Kathi: I’ve actually been involved in homeless ministries for many years and have long had a heart for the people who struggle to survive in such a difficult and dangerous environment. But it was actually someone in my extended family who had personally experienced homelessness for a time that challenged me to consider writing about it.

The Christmas hero we meet isn’t someone we’d expect to make a difference. How did you decide to make him the hero in your book. And why?
Kathi: In addition to having a heart for the homeless, I am a major supporter of the military—having been a military daughter, military wife, military mother, and now a military grandmother. When I think of those who served in harm’s way to keep us safe and then end up living on the streets for whatever reason, it grieves my spirit. That’s why I chose to make a homeless Vietnam vet the hero in my story.

One of the underlying messages of this book is the power of friendship. A caring friend can change everything. What would you say to encourage women to expand their friendships in order to express God’s love to people?
Kathi: It’s easy to be friends with people with whom we have a lot in common, but what about those who seem light years away from us in terms of everyday lives? Many of us have given a sandwich or a couple of dollars to someone on the street, but have we ever considered getting to know them—possibly even becoming friends with them? I know there needs to be safeguards in cultivating such relationships, but we don’t want to let fear hold us back from expanding our circle of friends. 

About three years ago I met a young couple who were homeless, struggling to get off the streets and into housing somewhere. They took every odd job they could find, but it was only enough to keep them fed and occasionally give them a night at a cheap motel so they could shower and sleep in a bed for a change. The first time I met them I gave them a lunch certificate for a nearby restaurant (I always keep some on hand), and they were very appreciative. Then I asked if I could pray for them. They readily agreed, and I laid my hands on their shoulders. The young woman began to cry. She said, “Other people have offered to pray for us, and some even did right then and there. But almost no one wants to touch us when they pray. I don’t blame them. I know we’re dirty from living on the streets, but it feels so good to be touched.” 

I never forgot that, and the three of us became friends. We stayed in touch as best they could, and I took them to lunch on occasion. They eventually got steady work and were able to rent a room and begin to rebuild their lives. I’m thrilled about that—and also thrilled that they still keep in touch. It is one of my most cherished friendships.

Your other books are missional in nature—you write about the persecuted church and sexual trafficking. Why do you believe writing missional novels is the niche you’ve been called of God to fill?   
Kathi: Since I was a young girl I’ve had a passion to “right social wrongs,” but because I didn’t become a Christian until I was 26 I had no idea how to even make a dent in such wrongs. After becoming a believer and growing in my relationship with the Lord, I realized the gift He gave me for writing/speaking could be used to shine His Light in the darkness of such social wrongs, and that’s what I do—whether it’s through the Extreme Devotion series about the persecuted Church (No Greater Love, Morethan Conquerors, Red Ink, and People of the Book), the Freedom Series about human trafficking/child sex slavery (Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and The Deliverer), or any of the other many tough topics in our world today.

The topics of joblessness and homelessness are going to be bigger issues, I believe, in the days ahead—especially if our economy heads downhill. What is the most powerful message you have in the book for those who have lost hope?
Kathi: There is no darkness that God’s Light can’t penetrate, no situation too hopeless for His unconditional love and faithfulness to invade. When there seems to be no way, no escape, no help, God is at work to bring about His perfect purposes. Just watch for His divine fingerprints wherever you are!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your new book?
Kathi: The picture on the cover of the book is that of an actual homeless man named Willard Parker, who incredibly resembles the homeless vet in the book. Mr. Parker is desperately seeking to be reunited with his long-lost family, especially his now grown daughter. We are praying that the exposure on the book cover will help make that happen. You can read more about Mr. Parker and his story, plus find out how you can help, by going to http://kathimacias.com/help-reunite-a-family/.
Thank you, Kathi. This is an inspiring story that tugs at the heart and reminds us about what matters in life.  I hope it will be made into a movie someday, and I highly recommend it for Christmas giving to friends and family. 

Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning author of 40 books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her devotionals reach hundreds of thousands. Kathi loves outreach to prison and homeless ministries and praying for and aiding the persecuted church globally. A popular speaker at women’s events and writers’ conferences, she lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.
 

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