Student to spend break homeless on city streets


For one NMU student, spring break will be spent curled up on a cold, steel bench, hoping to get some rest, wondering if he’ll be able to find breakfast in the morning.

As other students pile into their cars for a road trip or catch planes to far off locales, junior pre-medicine major Matt Boyd will be spending his spring break amongst the homeless in Chicago.

It all started last summer, when Boyd was at the SpringHill Summer Camp in Evart, Mich. There, he had a chance to talk with a couple of ministers who had worked with the homeless. Since then, he hasn’t forgotten the stories he’d heard. He made a decision to devote some of his time to the homeless.

“Over time, my heart started hurting for these people and their situation,” Boyd said. “I started reading my Bible differently and I started realizing things.”

And then, about a month ago, Matt Vissering, a close friend of Boyd’s, asked him if he wanted to work with homeless people. Boyd jumped at the opportunity.

“This is something God wants me to do,” he said.

For Boyd, his love for his fellow man is the reason he is spending his spring break with the homeless. He said he feels he should be doing more with his time, something more than simply donating money to a cause.

“I think it’s important to live every day like you are madly in love. In the Bible, the greatest two commandments are love your neighbor and love God. Love isn’t writing a check or saying hi to someone. I think it’s about losing yourself in that passion for people and for God.”

Boyd and Vissering plan on leaving March 2 for Chicago. Boyd will leave his car with a friend who works in the city. Once there, he will spend the week living on the streets of Chicago, listening to those who are less fortunate, helping them cope with their situation.

“Everybody’s got a story,” he said.

Boyd added that it’s very important for him to be able to give up the comforts of home in order to help those who do not have one.

“It’s important not to be attached to things,” he said. “I think I’m at a place in my life where I can give up everything in my life for five days.

“These people living on the streets of Chicago can’t do that. After spring break’s over, they’re still living on the streets.”

Although he will not be alone, Boyd did admit that he was a bit nervous about spending his nights homeless in such a large city.

Although being arrested is a concern, he worries more about his safety.

“To be quite frank, I’m really scared about it. I’m human like everyone else. Even though I believe in God, and I believe that Jesus died for our sins, it can be hard to take comfort in that when you’re looking down the barrel of a gun.”

Still, Boyd remains very optimistic that his time in Chicago will be well spent.

“I’m just going to go and live on God’s good humor,” he said.

Despite his enthusiasm, many of Boyd’s close friends are in shock that he is actually going through with his plan.

Some of them didn’t believe him when he said he wanted to work with the homeless last summer, and now that he is doing it, many of his friends have called him crazy. But Boyd doesn’t let it get to him.

“Yeah, I am crazy, but that’s what happens when you’re in love.”

Even though many of his friends disapprove, they are still supportive of him.

“All of them said they would be praying for me,” Boyd added.

Paul Johnston, resident director of West Hall and close friend of Boyd and Vissering, said he supports his friend’s decision.

“I think it’s awesome, it’s something that a lot of people aren’t willing to do. I think a lot of people might think about it, but it’s something that a lot of people haven’t followed through with. If people are actually concerned about homelessness or helping homeless people, they actually have to experience it and get to know these people. Not just pass them on the street, but get to know them.”