In a new video from Dégagé Ministries, a non-profit based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Jim Wolf, a formerly homeless U.S. Army vet, receives a striking physical makeover. The video was created for a Veteran’s Day fundraising campaign designed to raise money for homeless and disadvantaged veterans.
As their web site states, “Dégagé’s goal is to assure that every man and woman who we serve knows that he/she is not alone.” Offering a host of services to 400-500 people daily, from meeting immediate needs like food and clothing to “walking alongside and affirming individuals as they navigate obstacles and work toward housing, jobs, sobriety, health, and independence,” Dégagé seeks to “reflect Christ’s love in action and word” through close community.
As Dégagé recognizes, tragic hardship can often be perpetuated and reinforced by the perceptions and reactions of others:
For those we serve at Dégagé, many of whom are homeless and low-income, the hardships can be overwhelming—loss of shelter, loss of employment, loss of a loved one, loss of control and loss of opportunity. And with these hardships, they lose much more. Many feel unworthy and hopeless, especially after society has looked down upon them or they have been rejected after repeatedly trying to move forward on their own.
The video aptly demonstrates this double-edged power of perception. That Jim felt empowered after his transformation teaches us something about the danger of whatever lies we may believe about ourselves. That we ourselves are shocked teaches us something about how distracted we can become from recognizing the basic dignity of each human person.
Dégagé recognizes that “individuals gain dignity when they contribute,” and Jim’s makeover appears to have inspired him toward such a path. He has now joined Alcoholics Anonymous and has his own housing.
Each human person is beautiful and valuable and worthy — created in the image of God. Let us help others in seeing and embracing this truth, and when we encounter those in severe struggle and deep need, let us be careful not to forget it ourselves.
(HT Eric Teetsel)