Last week we studied the parable of “The Good Samaritan” Now that you have had a week to let it sink in, has your opinion of homeless changed? If not, stay with us today and let’s see if we can change your mind. If your opinion has changed, stay with us and I am sure you will learn a thing or two.
Luke 10:25-37 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, what is written in the law? how readest thou? And he is answering said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Last week we studied the parable of “The Good Samaritan”. We look at it from the perspective of when it happened in biblical time. We know that it generates because a legal scholar asked Jesus what he must do to receive eternal life. It is agreed that you must love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. These are two of the greatest commandments and always will be.
Then we move to the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho where a Jewish man was beaten and robbed. First it was a priest, and secondly a Levite who both crossed to the other side of the road when they saw the man lying there.
Would you still cross the road? What would you think of your pastor if he were to cross the road and not help?
The good Samaritan came along, and he did not cross the road. Instead, he took care of the man by bandaging his wounds and placing him on his donkey and taking him to an inn. He paid the innkeeper to take care of him and anything owed would be paid upon his return.
This is the biblical version and today we are going to relate to what this means today. This will include looking at some myths about homeless people.
Won’t Happen to me
Perhaps the biggest lie we tell ourselves about homelessness is that it can’t happen to me or someone in my family. Believe me this is the furthest from the truth. Reasons people become homeless includes loss of employment, substance abuse, divorce, separation, evictions, mental health, or domestic violence just to name a few.
Any one of the above could be true but generally it is a combination of more than one to account for homelessness. It could be they lost their job due to the recent pandemic and could no longer afford to pay the rent. Yes, I know there were government handouts, and we are not going to open that can of worms.
A gentleman was homeless, not sure of the original reason. One of our volunteers got him in a rooming house and he had a job. Things were looking up till one day he come home and was beaten nearly to death by someone else in the building. He spent time in the hospital, upon his release he refused to return to that rooming house. Back on the street, riding the bus to stay warm and dry, he got himself another job. This time he was placed in a long-term shelter and last count doing great for himself.
Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; And that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Those who give generously to the impoverished are being generous with God. Previously, oppression of the poor has been called an insult to God, the Creator of both the rich and poor.
It’s Their Choice
Although this may be true in several cases, it’s not true in all because if it was, we wouldn’t be filling up the shelter beds every night. Yes, the demons such as substance abuse does control them and that prevents them from getting ahead.
We know of another homeless man who was assisted by several agencies to get him off the streets, not once but twice. Both times he ended back on the street because Satin had control. He had no faith in our true God. Finally, the third time was a charm, he has beaten the demons, put his faith in our Gracious Savior, and has been housed for a whole year. Can I get an Amen!
Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Jesus uses this self-designation more than any other; it comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel.
Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
This title occurs 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and often stresses the exaltation of Jesus. Here, however, it highlights His position as a homeless itinerant.
Would you believe that only about 45% of people experiencing homelessness had any mental illness at all. Only 25% have a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder but the relationship between homelessness and mental illness is complicated at best.
Resources are a grave concern. During the winter months and only on the real cold nights (Below 32 degrees), we have extra resources. Otherwise, in this area on a normal night there are hundreds left outside. This could be a personal choice, trust issues, or because of their illnesses they have been barred from the shelters although the reason most likely attributed to the illness.
Recent surveys says that persons with these illnesses are dependent on substance abuse. The survey says 38% are alcohol dependent and 26% are dependent on drugs which may include their prescribed drugs.
Proverbs 21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, He also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
God will reward those that are generous to the needy. Those that don’t help the needy are disobeying God and will not receive any reward.Unemployed
People automatically believe that homeless people are plain lazy, they need a job, they want others to give them everything. Would it surprise you that 13% of homeless have jobs. The remaining face a host of barriers to employment.
We had a client who had a fulltime job at a restaurant but was scheduled to work 3:00 till close. The problem was the shelter closes their doors at 7:00. He was in a shelter unemployed now that he is employed, he is without a shelter.
Proverbs 22:9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; For he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Generous people will be blessed because Yahweh will reward them.
I can’t debunk the myth that if you give a homeless person money that they will squander It on drugs and alcohol. Some will use it for something to nourish themselves and this also gives them a chance to go to the bathroom.
We always keep snack bags in the car to hand out if needed. Should someone indicate they want to buy something to eat we will offer to buy them what they want or hand them a gift card. If they turn you down when you ask, these are the ones that want the money for something else.
Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, And that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; And that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Things that are not done to God’s rules will be frowned upon.
Let me ask you this, if you had no money and hungry, would you appreciate if someone gave you a meal or a drink? After ten years of outreach to the homeless, I guarantee you that there is a large amount of those that feel entitled to what you are offering but it makes you feel warm when you get the occasional thank you.
Proverbs 22:9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; For he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Generous people will be blessed because Yahweh will repay them.
In my ten plus years of dealing with the homeless on the streets, I have only had one problem and it was the cause of a miscommunication and nothing else. I have an associate who also serves on a weeknight who goes into vacant buildings and has no problems. Now I am not saying there are not problems because there are. I am just saying the maturity are more afraid of you than you are being in harm’s way. Simple solution is to approach in a calm way and speak in a caring tone offering what you have to offer. Don’t force anything and let the conversation if any be dictated by them.
Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: But he that honored him hath mercy on the poor.
Any oppression of the poor or needy is an offense to God.
Let’s look at the definition of homeless. Oxford dictionary defines it as “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and if they sleep in a shelter designated for temporary living accommodations or in places not designated for human habitation” .
HUD defines it as “People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided”.
It is true that some live on the street as mentioned above for many reasons. But some live in shelters, motels, transitional housing, cars, vacant buildings, or ride the busses. Would it surprise you that nephew that is crashing temporary on your sofa is considered homeless?
Luke 9:58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Senior Citizen Homeless
People think that the homeless are mostly older, single men. First, this is far from the truth. Would you like me to introduce you to a 25-year-old man or a single mom of two who are both homeless? According to a 2018 report to Congress, 30% of the homeless were under the age of 24 and 40% of the homeless were female.
Would it surprise you that pre-pandemic we had only two shelters in the city that took females. One was a family shelter (Mother and children with dad if in the picture) and the other is for females only. During Covid and of course during the winter months, shelters pop up but generally are only available if the weather drops below 32 degrees.
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Paul is referring to Jesus’s law of love thy neighbor.
It is believed that homelessness and poverty will always be a problem. To some degree I believe there is some truth to this statement. First, there are those that homelessness is their choice and that is not going to change. Second, for every success we manage to get off the street , another one ends up on the street.
The proof is in the annual homeless count. The numbers don’t change that much but we have agencies that are boasting that they are putting people in housing situations. Problem with some of these projects is the lack of case management. You get a one-bedroom unit and all expenses paid for a year. The year expires and you are homeless again because nothing was accomplished.
Matthew 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
The actions described here reflect obedience to the command to love one’s neighbor—and thereby demonstrate love for God, as well
Help when someone needs help
Race should never matter
Be kind to your haters
Help without expecting something in return
We need more beds, we need more case managers, we need more people that care. We need you!!!
Failure to love & help your neighbor is an insult to our God