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What do I have to offer?
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By Gil Clelland

"So, what do I have to offer?" blurted out Dom as I was preaching on Sunday night.

The sermon I was sharing was based on 2Corinthians 9 - specifically verse 7, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."(NIV) I was discussing the joy in giving from our blessings - all the ways God has gifted us. And Dominic could not handle it any more...what did he have to offer?

Three decades ago, Dom was born into an abusive home. Drugs surrounded his childhood and became his coping mechanism as he hit the streets of London in his early 20's. Often degrading himself to get his latest fix, Dom knew nothing of love. His life, like so many of our friends on the streets, had become a life of survival. Just get by. Certainly not a life of success. Certainly not worth anything And certainly not a life where he had much to offer. Somewhere along the way, he began to hang out with Sanctuary.

At first, Dom came for the food - sandwiches at Monday lunch and a good warm meal on Wednesday evenings. Every now and then, he would stay longer. Dom played euchre with us. Not well. He's a great player...just a short temper. Occasionally, Dom would lose his control, yell at us, and leave. For some reason, he kept coming back. For five years, he has kept coming back.

A few weeks ago, we were asked to help out an organization that rescues women out of the sex trade. This organization had already rescued a woman and her children. They were safe and moved out of their apartment in London. The person who had trafficked her was behind bars. We were asked to clean up the apartment she had been renting when she was rescued. I asked the members of our community at Sanctuary and 10 people showed up for the day. The apartment, having been abandoned for a few months now, was disgusting. Bugs of all varieties greeted us under every box, every piece of furniture, and in every closet. Overwhelming smells caused many of us to take a walk outside just to get fresh air. But Dom did not give up the whole day. He scrubbed floors on his hands and knees. He washed walls and moved furniture. When I got tired, Dom kept going. Sweating in this hot apartment, he poured himself out. He was loving a woman and her children - people we will never meet. And those images struck me as he asked his question Sunday night...

"What do you have to offer?" I repeated back to him, "You have so much more than money. You have a wonderful life that is somehow still full of love." I recounted how he interacts with my children, how he was one of the first to help me move, the one who stays on Wednesday to clean up, and the one who helps get Monday's lunch ready. No, he does not have money. And he does not know his worth all the time. He knows that God calls him his beloved, but it is hard to believe that after the life he has lived. It's hard for Dom to believe that he has anything to offer. But for some reason, he DOES offer. And God holds onto all of those offerings. And in people like Dom, God's love is offered to the rest of us.

Gil Clelland is the Pastor with Sanctuary London. Sanctuary London is in partnership with Talbot Street Church (formerly First Christian Reformed Church). It is in the beautiful atrium of this church, located at 513 Talbot Street, where they hold all of their weekly drop-ins and worship services. Please visit the Sanctuary London website at www.sanctuarylondon.ca