It is Sunday, February 25, 2018. We had just finished our 4th Annual Coldest Night of the Year Event in Downtown Medicine Hat the night before on Saturday, February 24. The volunteers were all a bit tired and every one of us was there because we have a distinct call to serve Medicine Hat and the Guests of Hope Street CMC. It was a quieter Sunday for us, the last weekend of the month is usually quiet and we see a smaller crowd than usual. We offered our regular meal of hearty soup, tuna buns, salad and veggies, desserts of many kinds, coffee and juice. Everything was pretty normal for us at Hope Street and the meal ended with the normal cleaning of the gymnasium and kitchen at St Barnabas Anglican Church. and then it happened… and it broke my heart!!
As we were preparing to leave, one of our volunteers informed me that we had a guests who was laying down outside sleeping on the cold concrete. The first thing I thought was that the guest had fallen down or had been involved in an altercation.
“I feel the need to break in here and point out that the photo above is a stock photo used to represent the event. The identification of our guest is being protected as we do not want anyone to jump to conclusions. The gender, ethnicity, age, colour or any other feature of our guests is of no concern to us at Hope Street CMC as we treat every Guests with dignity and respect.”
We went outside and tried to awaken our Guest. They opened thier eyes and we asked some key questions… Did you fall down? Were you assaulted? Are you okay? The Guest gave me a thumbs up and a fist-bump to indicate they were okay. That then left us to face a crisis decision that had to be made.
What do we do next? Can we just walk away and trust that the individual would be okay? After just a couple minutes of thought we knew what we had to do, call 911! The call was made, details were given and we were informed that the police would arrive shortly. I waited for the police and after a brief conversation with one of the officers, I was assured that they knew this Guest of ours and that they would take care of the situation. I left knowing that this Guest would not be missed or forgotten and that they should be okay.
So you might be asking, “Why the broken Heart?” I don’t know if I have an honest answer for you. I have not been afraid to cry in the years since I have become a christian. In fact, tears are a regular part of my life now. BUT this situation tore at my heart in a way I have not felt in a long time. I think I felt the utter loss of hope that I saw in a guest who just laid outside on the cold ground. Did I mention they were wearing blue jeans, a hoodie and a light jacket? Definately not dressed for a winters day let alone dressed to be sleeping outside on the concrete. It reminded me of scenes I have seen in countless articles and news broadcasts of larger cities and their struggle to take care of the disadvantaged people in their midst.
What I think affected me the most in this situation is that just 20 hours earlier, 150+ people walked 2, 5 or 10km in a fundraising event in the very downtown area of Medicine Hat were this guest chose to sleep. As we participated, we all embraced the motto that we are walking because it’s cold out here! I sometimes wonder to myself if Hope Street CMC is really making that big of a difference in the lives of our Guests? That is a personal question that I have always asked myself whenever I have been involved in any kind of ministry or action. Is this really needed? The answer, at least for me, Is YES… Hope Street CMC made a difference in the lives of at least one Guest in particular today that went beyond just feeding hungry people. The volunteers were all concerned about our Guest and the texts and calls didn’t stop until we all knew our Guest was okay. The incident ended up with EMT being called by the Medicine Hat Police Officers who arrived to answer our 911 call. I am not sure what is next for this guest but I know the story does not end with a newscast tomorrow morning of another person freezing to death in downtown Medicine Hat!
So if I had any more questions about if we are necessary, they have been answered. Hope Street CMC is a Vital Ministry in downtown Medicine Hat. Our incredible group of volunteers who show so much care and compassion for each one of our Guests will continue to do that with excellence every time they serve. We will continue to offer Hope in every instance and reach out with a helping hand in all the ways we can. This is what makes Hope Street CMC real, this is what makes us crucial and this is what allows us to continue to offer Hope 4 Today and Hope 4 Tomorrow!
How Can You Help?
There are various ways you can help at Hope Street CMC. You can make a donation and become a volunteer. You can become a supporter. You can join the Hope 4 Today team and become a monthly donor. You can become a prayer partner. OR you can just share the news of what Hope Street CMC does on social media, in posts, in conversation. Just select one or more of the buttons below to join us in our Vision: Realized Potential Through Breaking Cycles of Poverty.
Murray Kumm, Executive Director