“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:20-21
This year, because Allan’s parents were spending Christmas with his Grandma in France, our family had decided we would dedicate our Christmas Eve to help support Grace Cafe and serve the homeless.
Only hours before the appointed time on Christmas Eve, we were informed that the venue had changed. Instead of serving at Kristuskirken, we were going to be meeting the Grace Cafe team at Amalienborg Castle. As we rushed towards the “stables” of Amalienborg Castle, all kinds of questions went through our minds. Would we meet the queen? Had we dressed finely enough? Would it be a royal feast for the homeless? Not knowing if we were even expected, we quickly downed a quick meal in the car so we would not need to eat and could focus on serving.
Upon arriving at the palace, we realized we were, in fact, not expected, nor really needed as volunteers, as there were plenty of hands to help serve the homeless. We recognized many of the homeless from the previous times serving the homeless at Kristuskirken and we agreed with Søren, the evening's host, that we wouldn’t serve food or eat anything but instead mingle and talk with the homeless.
The venue was formerly the stables of Amalienborg and currently serves as the garage of the palace. The Crown’s fleet of cars is overlooked by Søren, and it was he, his wife, their children and their parents who had taken it upon themselves to cook a Christmas meal for the homeless. It was clear that this event was not organized by her Majesty the Queen of Denmark, but by a single individual (and his family) with the resources he was willing to share. How wonderful to see such unselfish efforts made by local Danes.
The homeless were primarily foreigners from Eastern Europe (Romania, mostly) and from Africa, but there were also a few Danes among them. We gathered that most of them were here in Denmark in hoping of finding work to support their families either back in their home countries or in other countries where they had stayed. They were reasonable, rationally thinking, able individuals who were making great sacrifices to support their families.
The food was traditional Danish Christmas food, and the garage had been nicely decorated for the occasion, and there was a sound setup with a microphone and a loudspeaker, which provided a nice atmosphere. There was plenty of wine and beers which also helped bring people together, and the room was filled with joy, laughter, music and even dancing.
Although we did not always speak the same language – many did not know any other language than Romanian – we were delighted with the friendliness and the sincerity of everyone we spoke to. Common to all was the feeling of being away from their own country, away from families, and the hope for work and a better future. And everyone showed respect and care for one another. It was clear that these friends sharing the same situation had become family, and we felt very welcome in this family and loved by all whom we met.
The presence there of our kids seemed to be appreciated by some of the homeless who were missing their own children, and both Anna and Eric began to feel at ease with the homeless just as we parents did. So much that Anna was taking selfies with her new homeless friends (using her new camera) and Eric refused to leave the party before stopping to hug one of our newfound homeless friends. This takes a lot for our shy little Eric to do, so this says a lot about how much we felt welcomed in this family of new found friends.
In summary, we are very thankful for the opportunity FIBC has provided to serve the homeless in cooperation with Grace Café. We are thankful for all those who make sacrifices for these people, and by playing a small part in this work we believe we have received just as much care and love as we have given – or possibly more…
Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”
Happy New Year,
Allan, Jannie, Anna, and Eric Silfverberg.