According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness in 2016 there were 564,708 homeless people on one night in January. That’s over half a million! I won’t go into the breakdown even more, you can click the link I provided and see that for yourself.
I do however want to concentrate on what we as the Body of Christ should be doing to help. In my area there is a small city by most standards roughly 35,000 people. I read an article today that said that town had at least 50 homeless people. The local Salvation Army has 23 beds. You do the math. There aren’t enough beds.
I live in the bible belt. In some areas there may literally be a church on every corner. I question why the ones left without a bed, couldn’t have a bed if they wanted one. With so many churches you’d think that there would be no shortage of beds to be had. After all we as the church are to help the poor and needy.
I’m not completely naive, I know that some of these people are criminals. I’m all for background checks at these places. But I also know that these places NEED to be doing something to require background checks for. I don’t see a lot of that going on. What I do see is buildings being built bigger and fancier. Again, I’m not inside every church and privy to the things they do, however if we as the church were doing what we needed to be doing, we wouldn’t have so many people in need.
Let me break it down the way I see it.
Here are a couple of bible verses I like.
Psalms 41:1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
These are two verses that seem to be key.
First, everyone (in America) for the most part, wants stuff. Families have to have two working parents. They want a big nice house, everyone gets a car, everyone has a phone and they want all of the latest gadgets. In Proverbs 30 the author says he only wants what he needs. We don’t have to have all the things. We would do well with a sufficient house for our needs, allowing our children to work for their own cars, and living a more minimalist type of life. I’m not saying you have to be amish, but dial it back.
This thinking tends to then bleed over into the church. We want big, nice buildings that have huge chandeliers and beautiful light fixtures. Most of the churches are in debt to pay for those things. Then people have to wear their fancy clothes to the fancy building. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s wrong to dress up, but others shouldn’t feel they aren’t good enough to be with you. Remember, not everyone is from your same economic status.
I’ve heard people say “You should look your best for Jesus.” Or that the building should be as nice as it can be because it’s God’s house. Again I disagree. People in other countries are having church with dirt floors and no windows, some of them in standing water, and some of them with no building at all. You can’t tell me God is judging us on what we wear and the building we attend. That sounds an awful lot like a pharisee. Sorry, I just call it like I see it.
So, with this being the mindset that so many people have is it any wonder that churches aren’t doing anything to help those in need? Psalms 41 says blessed is he who considers the poor. We don’t have to give handouts, but we should be doing our best to help those in need. If they have need of food, we can help, but not if the church is tied down to debt. If they need help getting a job, allow people in your congregation to help them learn new skills or brush up on old ones. Someone help them with a resume and interview prep. If we did what we were supposed to do instead of trying to keep up with the Jones’ the church would be full and there would be an enormous strain taken off the government.
You may look at the number of homeless people I quoted at the beginning and think what can I do? That’s a lot of people. I know because I ask myself all the time what can I do? We’re just one family. I won’t go into what our family has done, because I don’t believe in shouting your deeds from the rooftop, but it’s not near enough. We’d love to be able to organize a school backpack program for kids who need food on weekends or when school is not in session. You’d be surprised how many people go to bed hungry right here in America.
We have to do more. I’m going to be actively looking for ways to help. I’m not going to ignore the homeless person on the street when I see them. It’s by the grace of God that it’s not me. I want to be available to help those in need and I’d much rather spend my time with them than in a building full of fancy things and fancy suits.
Down below share some ideas. Some of you may live in a big city and have ideas that work well there. Others may live in a very small town like me and you may have different ideas. Let’s work together to see what we can do. We may not end the epidemic of people being homeless, but we can sure put a dent in it.