Homelessness is an issue that is very close to my heart. Before I was a Christian I moved out of my home when I was 16 years old. I lived in a shed at a friend’s grandmothers house at that time. His grandmother allowed this because we were friend’s. But after about a year he got in a lot of trouble with the law and increasingly got involved in drugs. His grandmother had no choice but to kick him out. He would steal from her, and even sometimes take her car out while she was sleeping at night to go party. That was until the time he wrecked her car in the middle of the night and got a DUI and ended up in jail. I was sound asleep at home when this happen and I got his call wanting me to come and cover for him saying that I had driven and wrecked the car because she would forgive me if I said it was me. I told him no way, because that story is just too unbelievable, but that is the drugs talking, you don’t care about anyone but yourself and will do anything to anyone to manipulate those around you to get what you want.
After this incident that landed him in jail his grandmother kicked me out of her home. This was not because I had done anything wrong but because the only reason I was being allowed to stay there was because of her grandson. Because he was in jail now she said I had to go. I understood even though it was tough to hear this. It was the fall with winter approaching. At the time I was working for $7/hr. doing roofing and siding and working my fingers to the bone. I still have the calluses over my knuckles today from the work those years ago. I was sleeping in my little pickup truck at the time and mainly wherever I could find a good parking spot. I would stay up pretty late trying to find friends who were still awake to pass the time and then just park and sleep for about 3-4 hours. During the winter it was freezing. I would just sleep in my work clothes with no pillow, blanket or nothing. It would get down to freezing. The cold would wake me up throughout the night which sometimes I would have to turn on the truck just to get a little heat in there before I tried to sleep again. After my 3-4 hours sleep I would head out to go to work hard again. During that time I would go to the ocean to bathe, and yes, I did this even in the wintertime. I did this for about a year before I eventually found another place I could move into and afford. During this time my staple meals were chocolate milk, tuna fish straight from the can, pork rinds, and sometimes a mango if they were cheap.
This was all before I was a Christian. Why do I tell this story?
It seems that more and more wherever you go today that you see more homeless popping up. I understand completely the challenges in approaching this situation. Are they scammers? Are they drug addicts or alcoholics? Do they have mental illness? Are they dangerous? I understand all these concerns as they are completely valid. I also understand the thought process behind seeing one of these guys/gals on the corner and saying “What can I do for them more than just give them a handout” Because while giving someone a handout can be good for some it also enables the drug addict or alcoholic. Also, a handout doesn’t address the root problems of their situation. So what are we to do?
It is my prayer that churches would come together to discuss and adopt a homeless person if they see someone like this in the community. Who is really supposed to be addressing the homeless problem? The government? No, the body of Christ is supposed to come together to be reaching out to these that are hurt and lost. Can the church help provide counseling? Spiritual guidance? A way to help them get on their feet? Could the church help this man or woman by helping them find an apartment and maybe pay the first few months? Help them to find a job in town? Maybe purchase them reliable used vehicle or give them rides to work until they can get on their feet again? Every situation is different especially in the case of those with drug, alcohol, or mental problems but how many homeless are just people that just need some guidance and a chance? I know I was one of them at one time but thankfully I had a job and a vehicle at least to keep me going until I could get on my feet by myself again. Years later I was saved and found the love and salvation through Christ alone. How many of those homeless may also need that same chance even if their lives don’t work out to give them a fair chance and also a fair chance to hear and accept the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. We as THE CHURCH should be in this to help them together. It is testimony against the local church in many ways when we see homeless on our street corners with signs saying I need food and help, God Bless! Where are we?
Please pray also as our Taiwanese professor friend and his wife will be going to Taiwan soon and we have arranged them to meet with some wonderful missionary friends of ours that recently had to exit China for security reasons and are now based in Taiwan. We pray this meeting would go well and that some good opportunities and partnership would result that helps strengthen the church and spread the good news further. We will be sharing with a group of Chinese university students later this month in VA so pray for that opportunity for us and please continue to pray as we continue to lend a hand in the disaster relief efforts in North Carolina, some have lost everything from that last hurricane and are still rebuilding. When in town have been doing jail ministry in Kenansville NC, pray for those guys in the jail as we continue to share the gospel with those who are lost and disciple those who are hungry for the word. One guy in particular, Vince, is being used in a mighty way to already be reaching others in jail with the gospel of Christ. I have been having intense times of discipleship with him this past month and he is extremely hungry for the word.
Finally, I mentioned to a brother on the ride home who I go to the jail with “Isn’t it a shame that you can get in a better conversation about the Bible with a violent criminal who is in jail and possibly for many years yet most of your average Christians can’t stand to speak about the Bible or have the interest to for more than a few minutes?” I think it is a shame. I remarked to Brother Vince in jail last time, “Who really is in the prison? Who really is behind bars? Are you behind the bars or are we on the other side behind the bars in the the large prison of the world and it’s sin system? You are more free than most in your position in Christ right now.”
Hebrews 13:3 “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” In Jesus name, AMEN!
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