Step with me into my time machine. Let us travel back in time...
I found myself in the streets of Paris. I had just finished visiting the Louvre Museum and we had a little bit of free time (more like spending time) in our hands. I was with a group of students, touring Europe. We were young with credit cards that seemed endless and I was enchanted and charmed by Paris, even though my stay there was only 4 days.
So, somehow, I find myself with a friend, just walking the nearby streets. I don't quite remember why we were idle, or if we had a destination in mind, but we stopped in front of a bakery. It was not this particular bakery that caught our attention. It was the woman facing it.
A homeless woman, it seemed. This is January.. in Paris.... It's really cold outside! And here is a woman in rags, with a child on her arms. I noticed that she had an asthma inhaler next to her (with those rags + that weather, asthma must be a constant companion).
"Why don't we buy food for this woman?" my friend suggested. After all, the bakery is right there. "Alright. Let's split it. You buy the food, I buy the drink. Deal?"
We went to the bakery, pointed at the things we wanted (I didn't know how to hold a conversation in french yet) and got out with a heated meal and a refreshing drink in hand. The lady from the bakery eyed us (we were tourists after all). But her mouth dropped when she saw us wake the homeless woman up to give our recent purchase to her. Oh, the face of this homeless woman was lit up. 'Merci' has never sounded so beautiful to me. With moist eyes, she awakened her child to feed her, as we drifted into the background of this Parisian city.
If you ask me what I loved most about my trip, I'd tell you it was that moment. Those minutes changed my life. It was not the Eiffel tower or the Louvre museum, although very beautiful these places where. It was the fact that for a moment, I made a difference in someone's existence. That this woman, this child, needed me. And I took the chance to help them rather than be indifferent. Yes, it's true that this woman is still on the streets, maybe even begging for money, that her situation didn't change because of me. But it's also true this hopeless woman was given hope.
We weren't trying to be heroes that day. We saw a need and we just had to do something about it. We couldn't walk past her. I had never seen a mother and a child homeless. She probably had never seen two teens giving her a warm meal either. It was a first for all of us, and my life has never been the same since. And that's the story of how I found Jesus in the streets of Paris.
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40