Going through my daily life, and with Christ, one thing that continually bugs me is that I live in supposedly one of the wealthiest nations on earth, and yet homelessness is a major problem.
Sure, some people choose to be homeless (it’s complicated) and that kind of works for them for part of the year, but unless they’re migrating during the seasons, many of these perpetually homeless people are waiting for the next extreme weather event. By extreme, we’re talking hypothermic or hyperthermic conditions. Freezing or cooking. Some people don’t choose to be homeless. It takes one significant medical emergency and aftercare that sees them lose their job / career, their house and then they’re either in a car, or straight on the street. Some folk lose it all in a disaster. Be that natural or man made. And many don’t have family members who they can call upon for one reason or another.
For those of us who are sheltered, we have a home. We have the luxury of keeping warm. It shouldn’t be a luxury though, should it? Shouldn’t it be something everyone can attain? Most people in houses don’t know what being really cold is. It’s not just a mere chill in the air.
Another thing that bugs me when discussing the homeless situation is how quick the general public can be to judge. What do you know about that individual? And if you do know them, does that mean every single person without a home is the same way? You work in a certain field. Does that make everyone who works in the same field exactly the same as you? You grew up in a certain town, or drive a certain car. Is everyone the same as you? Of course not.
Jesus said a few things. Love thy neighbour. Do unto others. Throughout the Bible the homeless and those in need are mentioned. The general rule of thumb is to help them out. Whether that’s offering them warm clothing, shelter, food – helping. Certainly not hurting and not begrudging their existence. The Good Samaritan is an excellent example of a stranger taking care of someone who was stripped of all they had.
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in, – Matthew 25:35 (AMP)
Someone might ask, if God loves the homeless and needy so much, why doesn’t He get them housed?
He sent you out to the world to be his disciples and minister to the people. You, who feel a calling to take up cause (in whatever area, not necessarily homelessness) are an advocate for Jesus and his teachings. Ministry isn’t just about spreading the Word of God, but by living the Word of God and setting examples. So how do you LIVE and demonstrate the love of Jesus? By doing. By helping. God is the Word. He often uses our actions to make His Word more relevant and more meaningful to those in the world today.
It is important for people to gain some kind of understanding that it is not merely drugs that put people into these situations. If you have a hard start in life, often times you don’t get a buffer between pay-checks if there is an emergency. If there’s a medical emergency, that can put many people in the red simply with an ambulance ride. Hospital bills, then mortgage or rent lapses, ongoing expenses and then what happens when you can no longer work? Without the ability to pay down the debt you’ve incurred, you face being tossed out on the street like a bag of trash. Your house burns down and you have no insurance.
The problem is worse if there is a child in that household who is also made homeless. When we speak ill of the adult we also discard their child to the trash pile, as if they were nothing. But most people don’t think about the children when they talk about the homeless. They don’t even mention children, unless they’re talking about runaway homeless kids. And then there’s a lot of negative spin there too. Unfortunately, there’s usually a reason that kids end up on the street and it’s not because they had an idyllic life to start with. Some find it’s safer to go to the street than stay with their parent/s. And once on the street, they may be given some really cruel, hard and often fatal lessons about what humanity can be truly like.
For any homeless individual it can be rather difficult to obtain a job because they have no fixed address. Yes, some can borrow a mailing address, but not everyone has family or friends they can rely on.
If you feel the call to look out for the homeless, or those in need, you may have a local rescue mission or shelter you can reach out to. You may have a local organization you can donate through, or perhaps, when the temperatures swing to the extremes, you can provide some kind of relief when you see someone on the street that appears to be of no fixed abode. If it’s impractical to provide shelter, try offering them cool electrolytes in the summer and winter apparel (especially outerwear) for the cold. If practical, setting them up with lodging is better.
The homeless aren’t just homeless. They’re people. They are God’s creation. Like you. Like me. Even if you might have been homeless yourself at some point, don’t judge others based on you being able to pull yourself out of that situation. You haven’t walked in their shoes with their perspective, so don’t assume you know what they’re all about and that they have the same resource pool, or contacts you might have.
He who oppresses the poor taunts and insults his Maker, But he who is kind and merciful and gracious to the needy honors Him. – Proverbs 14:31 (AMP)