getting to know the homeless

We’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of homeless folks recently at DSC. It seems that when you start offering financial/nutritional help, word gets out… fast. However, we’ve been impressed with our own lack of ability to help get people back on their feet. Its a DSC policy that we don’t give hand-outs, we give hand-ups. Cheesy, but it gets the point across: we want to get people back on their feet so that they can reintegrate as stable, self-sustaining members of society.

So, in our struggle to meet real needs as well as push for change in their lives, we’ve been thinking through how the gospel confronts homelessness, as it does every other thing in our lives. I’ve written out a quick survey of my thoughts below on this issue. This is NOT a gospel presentation, and I don’t intend to use it as such, but it helps me to think systematically through this so that I can better apply the gospel when I’m talking with homeless people who I have the honor of ministering to. (Mat 25:40) I wonder if you guys would look over this and let me know how I can be more loving/biblical/christ-centered/whatever else you see. I’m sure there are lots of areas of improvement so please be free with your suggestions and corrections.

1. God is establishing a kingdom
2. The kingdom has been broken by sin (sin = treason against the king of the world)
3. Jesus came to restore kingdom and reconcile us (sinners)
4. We have to recognize our need for him, we all are enemies of God, Jesus died to take the punishment, Jesus earned the free gift of forgiveness for us (thats why the church gives)
5. That is the good news of Jesus, He died so that we could be friends with God and forgiven for our sins
6. All we have to do is trust in Jesus and the good news becomes good news for us
7. But God is always challenging us, testing us so that we grow to be more like Jesus. He asks questions like, “do you believe in Jesus this much?” God finds the idols in our lives (things that we love more than we love him) and he challenges us to knock them down

8. One of the idols that we see in your life that God wants you to knock down is idleness (not working).
9. You have 2 choices:

A. Ignore God and go your own way, or…
B. Recognize that you’ve done wrong (idleness), ask God to help you to do right (to find work and be motivated to do it), then start working

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6 responses to “getting to know the homeless

  1. Great post! We have learned at City on a Hill that homelessness is symptomatic, not causative. At the heart of homelessness, where the gospel penetrates, you will find mental/emotional illness, broken family relationships, fierce independence, drug/alcohol abuse and sloth. We also learned the secret to transformation was assimilation into the gospel community (the church). We have experienced far less than 10% of the homeless people we have served willing to make heart changes. Probably no different than the rest of the population. Praise God for the efforts of DSC to love all people with the gospel!

  2. Great Post!!! I am blessed to be walking through these questions with men and women from DSC as well as City on a Hill. I feel like I am in a constant classroom state, I have dropped the ball more times in showing love and Christ likeness to the homeless than I care to share. I feel like the disciples probably did with Jesus when confronted with the poor and needy, inadequate! Praise God for our Great Shepherd Jesus who guides us sheep in this process.

    May God grant us wisdom, discernment, compassion, love and realization for our broken and neediness before a Holy Holy Holy God!!

  3. Park-Nasty,

    Great thoughts.

    z

  4. Thanks Dave, you’re so right. I totally ignored the fact that idleness (sloth) is not the only cause of homelessness. I was focusing on a certain situation and not thinking widely, or generously, enough.

    I love what you said about getting people integrated in the church. That sounds hard, my flesh is much more inclined to throw some cash at a situation and consider it solved, but its a very timely word for us (particularly for me) as we work through this.

    BTW, I should probably mention that I was greatly helped in thinking through this by chapter 6 of Keller’s “Ministries of Mercy.” He said something similar to what you said, Dave, the gospel must confront a person’s whole life. Your words are a perfect practical outworking of that.

  5. In fact, wow… I just reread what I wrote and realized that it really only applies to that particular situation. The gospel is so good because it meets every person exactly where they are.

  6. Hey guys, please pray for our buddy Paul. He’s one of the bros we’ve been working with at DSC. Yesterday was a quite a scene. It all ended with Paul not being too happy about our accountability and becoming angry with our love. May God help us, as all have said, to reach out to our brothers and sisters without a home better.

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