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[x_blockquote type=”left” style=”font-size: 100%;”]From the CROSS BlogA periodic check-in from our CROSS Interns, who dedicate their summer to help guide visiting youth groups as they serve in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, children’s programs, and other agencies that serve our neighbors in need.[/x_blockquote]Every time I think the summer is going by too quickly, it speeds up.  I can’t even comprehend that we are over half way done with being CROSS interns. Looking back over the weeks that have passed since moving to Charlotte, I can honestly say that I am a completely different person. I knew my perspective towards others would broaden eventually, but I had never anticipated that I would be completely transformed in all aspects of my life in a matter of weeks.

Cookout. A Fine Dining Establishment.

My eyes were opened to this transformation a couple of weeks ago at none other than the finest eating establishment in the 704, Cookout.  All of the interns decompress at the end of the week with some fries and a milkshake and laugh about how incredibly crazy but so precious all of our youths have been.  As we get out of the car, an unfamiliar face followed us to the window. He looked pretty out of it, and we all tried to avoid eye contact as to avoid a difficult and uncomfortable conversation.  He asked for some money to get some food, and all of us just looked at each other.  We replied with the all too familiar responses:  “sorry man, I don’t have any cash on me” and “I’m so sorry, I wish I could help you out.”   We wanted someone to help the man, but to be quite honest we really didn’t want to be that person or group of people.

We proceeded to turn towards the menu and pull out our wallets filled with the money we really did have.  That’s when it hit me.  This man needed a meal, I had the money to give him a meal.  It wasn’t a trick or a gimmick.  This man truly needed help and I had the ability to help him.  I called the man back and told him to order whatever he wanted.  He looked really confused. That’s when I realized he was having trouble reading the menu.  We walked up to the window together, and I read aloud all his options.  His face lit up when I mentioned a big double bacon cheeseburger with a double side of fries and a huge Cheerwine. We got our food and joined the other interns.

The rest of us fell right into place and began getting to know our new friend.  The man introduced himself as Estee, and told us he had just got to Charlotte and was living under the bridge on Freedom Drive.  He asked a little bit about all of us, and we told him our names and about our roles at CROSS.  Before we knew it, a half hour had passed, and Estee told us he had to go home to claim his spot.  As he was walking away, I felt another God ordained tug at my heart.  I called Estee back and told him that we’d be here every Thursday for the summer, and I’d buy him a tray every week he needed it.  He got tears in his eyes, and he told me he had every intention of paying me back one day.  We all shuffled back into my car, and all of us were virtually speechless.  Sarah Cline was eventually able to break the silence with, “what a guy.” We would have never done that before CROSS.  A lot of us would have never even made eye contact with one of our neighbors like Estee, even though we all fit the mold of “good church kids”.

God doesn’t make mistakes. We thought we were just going to Cookout because we’re college students and can only go so many days without fried food, but God had so much more in mind.  Our theme of this summer is “Living Out Love,” and we are fairly good at living out love at our eight ministry sites.  We’ve been trained on what to do and who to speak to, but God continues to call us out of our comfort zones.  He constantly reminds us that every second of our life is an opportunity to serve and to love the people around us.

I tell my group every week that CROSS should be the spark that should only grow as they return home.  They don’t have to go far at all to find someone who needs help.  Behind loving God with all our heart, mind, and strength, we are called to love our neighbor.  God puts people in our path to love; we just have to be willing to listen.

-Liz Pasq

Liz Pasquariello is one of seven CROSS Interns living in the Cornerstone house this summer. CROSS Interns dedicate their summer to help guide youth groups as they serve in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, children’s programs, and other agencies that serve our neighbors in need.