The Soup Taker…

My wife and girls never looked more beautiful.  My shower and bed never felt more perfect.  The roof over my head never felt more secure.

Thank you all for your prayers, encouraging blog comments, and emails for our NYC trip.  We touched down here in Tampa around noon yesterday – some of us cheered while others actually cried.  I felt both emotions.  Each young person was returned safely to their parents, never to be the same…ditto for us old people.

Reflecting back I’ve wrestled with the following thoughts:

* Mr. Handy may not be healed of his terminal illness.  He woke up today confined to the 4 walls of that sterile AIDS Hospital.

* Asif may not have come to the saving grace that is Christianity.  He probably woke up today still an angry and deceived Muslim.

* Mrs. Johnson may not have kicked her heroin habit.  She may be searching right now for her next fix.

* Although we fed the Rodriguez family of 6 a meal fit for royalty, they woke up today hungry again and in search of their next meal.

The sea of human need is heart breaking.   Abraham Maslow developed a theory of human needs. This theory accurately describes many realities of personal experiences.  If the environment is right, people will actualize their God given gifts.  If the environment is not right (and mostly it is not) they will struggle.

Maslow has set up a hierarchy of five levels of basic needs:

1. Physiological Need – consists of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature.

2. Safety Needs – When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active.

3. Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness – When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.

4. Needs for Esteem – When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others.  When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.

5. Needs for Self-Actualization – When all of the above needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.”  A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a writer must write.

I spent about 2 hours with Willie – the soup taker.  He does not know Maslow’s theory…but he does.  Willie told me that he needed to hear that God could still do something with his life.  He said “I’ve screwed up my life so bad, and I don’t need to hear anymore about religion.  I need to know that God still loves me and believes in me.”  I told him that religion or “the church” has always said that we love you, but it was time that we began to show the love.  For many of the unlovable, their greatest need is to know that they are unconditionally lovable.

Jesus fed the hungry and the next day these very same people woke up hungry again.  Jesus healed the sick and yet they still eventually died of of diseases.  I’ve learned that it is so much less about the act of serving our fellow brothers and sisters and so much more about loving them.

Lord willing I will accompany another team next summer to New York City.  You and I carry with us a message of hope and love that this world is literally dying to hear.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Roy, I’ve only now had the chance to catch up on your postings from the past 2 weeks, from the “soul/speed” series to the NYC series, and I am, quite frankly, blown away, brother.

    God has used you to convict me, and for that I am grateful. Thanks for sharing the details of the trip and all that you have been doing in ministry.

    Outstanding, brother…

  2. Thanks Andy.

    Nothing good in me bro but Him.

    How cool is it that He chooses to take us along for the ride.

  3. You, and every one of your team, should be very proud of the impact you made on the downtrodden of that great city…though you may have reached just a small part…in the eyes of God…it was a great step towards showing those few His love and His grace and giving them hope in spite of their problems and afflictions…Yes, there is still good in this world…you all proved it!

  4. Mr. Roy, Very encouraging post. I learned about Maslows theory back in ROTC in high school, but I never thought about it like you wrote. Very cool. Glad to see you all arrived home safely.

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