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Years ago, I attended a benefit concert for Heartside Ministry held in its small chapel on South Division Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Located at that time in the Heartside neighborhood of Grand Rapids, the traditional living place for the homeless population of the city, the ministry was little more than a couple of offices, a chapel, a basement full of used clothing, and a soon-to-open free medical clinic. (Today it is a non-denominational church that provides a place for worship and for services to the homeless population.) In the middle of the concert, a disturbance at the door turned the heads of those of us sitting nearby. In came Billy, supported by two friends and drinking buddies, bleeding from the head, dirty, full of the stench of cheap alcohol and an unwashed body, and barely able to stand. A handful of people got up to assist Billy, call an ambulance, and find a place for him to sit. During the wait for emergency personnel, one of the concert-goers asked the two friends what had made them come there. They replied, “People say you can come in here and get help and not be judged.” This is perhaps the best definition of hospitality in an urban ministry setting.
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