I was amazed when I saw the colorful, intricate constructions on a YouTube video. Tiny houses, barely bigger than a doghouse, with doors, round little windows, and slanted roofs, so the rainwater would flow off. And all of them on wheels, so they could be moved. They actually looked cozy.
The truth is that they were not doghouses, but shelters for the homeless in Oakland, entirely made of trash. Garbage, after all, can be recycled.
These homes are part of a project set up by an artist, Gregory Kloehn, who wants to supply the homeless with places of their own. Mr. Kloehn searches the streets for illegally dumped garbage, furniture, and other materials and uses them to make homes for the homeless. Some of his contraptions are real works of art. It may not be much, but it means the world for a homeless person, and it brings hope and light. And in this case, garbage is being used to bring that hope.
That night, I pondered the project. This man is willing to put his talents to use in a creative way and to make a difference. God has given all of us special talents, and when we yield them to God, no matter how small they may seem, He uses them. To Him, everybody has value and everybody is important.
I was also reminded of how one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. One time, when I was living in Brazil, I put my old leather boots outside the gate. There was a big hole in one of the soles—but those boots were gone in less than a minute.
Recycling garbage can be an interesting subject, especially considering what Jesus told me next in my ponderings: People once thought you were garbage, but I recycled you too. That’s the truth. I thought back to when I was lost myself—confused, groping in darkness, with nowhere to go. That time when I had no faith and no light. People had no hope for me. I could almost hear them think, Poor boy. He’s only good for the trash. But Jesus said, I can recycle you. I can make something beautiful out of you. And He did.
What’s my point?
Everything we do should be for the recycling business. We need to recycle this old world and bring about God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”1
1. Matthew 5:16