When Homelessness Hits Home

     I’m not ready for that, I thought, in response to our guest speaker from Vineyard San Diego, who spoke last weekend of bringing homeless people into her home to eat and have a place to stay.  It’s not safe.  It’s not clean.  It’s not my thing.  The speaker cited Isaiah 58:6-7 as the church’s imperative to serve the homeless:   “Share your food with the hungry,   and give shelter to the homeless.  Give clothes to those who need them.

     I’ve written before about handing hats out to homeless street people on street corners.  But that’s as far as my calling has gone…out my car window.  Recently, homelessness hit even closer to home.  My husband prepared a rental property for a homeless man named Peter.  He hadn’t even collected his rent.  In a very tragic, bizarre twist, the same night that Peter moved into his new place, he was killed by a drunk driver who swiped him off the sidewalk.  It was all over the news.  We can’t make sense of it. 

     According to Sunday’s October 22nd, Arizona Republic, “Street homelessness jumped by 27.7 percent from 2015 to 2016,” which was also cited as a contributor to increasing heat-related deaths. This past year, Vineyard North Phoenix served 102 people or households who identified as homeless, based on a report from Paul VanDerNaalt of Vineyard.  Overall, 2,887 people have been served this year. 

      In the newly released movie Same Kind of Different As Me, (2017) the heart-rending plight of the homeless is depicted.  Based on the best-selling true story, a broken Ft. Worth couple begin to slowly mend their relationship by volunteering together in a local homeless shelter.  Not only do they learn to love and serve the homeless, they restore their marriage.  The couple forge a special relationship with a homeless man named Dallas, who slowly learns to trust them, and they change each other’s lives forever.  Later, charitable efforts raise millions to help the homeless in their area and continue to do so. 

     While not necessarily a faith-based movie, it is certainly spiritual and inspirational.  The film shows the path to homelessness comes from many causes:  a job loss, a divorce, domestic violence, physical disabilities, substance abuse, lack of education.  Mental illness can be a factor, too. 

     This movie broke me.  (It isn’t hard to break me these days).  We as Christians have so much more to do in this area.  I’m grateful that Vineyard has the mission and compassion to feed and clothe the hungry and poor and provide medical assistance to children.  We can all contribute to the food and clothing bank.  Some of us can volunteer in the food bank.  I know of at least one Vineyard small group which does street ministry to the homeless.  This isn’t my season to take on more volunteer work, but I can use my voice to encourage others to do something.  All it takes is letting homelessness hit home

6 thoughts on “When Homelessness Hits Home”

  1. I believe I hear God talking……….”the least of these”????
    Thank you Jodi for an Excellent commentary and reminder. I was very involved in the homeless ministry for over 12 years when I first arrived in Arizona, and I learned & received more intangibles from them that I ever gave.

  2. Thanks for that perspective, Jodi. The majority of the time, when I have an opportunity to help a homeless man (because it seems it’s almost always a man with me), I feel limited in what I can do simply because I’m female and usually alone. I hate this! It frustrates me to no end to know that I have this fear, not only for my personal safety, but also not looking forward to hearing my husband “reprimand” me for taking the risk alone. So I end up doing very little or nothing unless it’s a very busy, public place. Sigh.

  3. Jeri Ann, I agree….I don’t advocate doing anything personally that’s a safety or health risk. Coincidentally, we drove by Vineyard Saturday night….saw a homeless guy in the parking lot. We had just eaten pizza and had two leftover pieces…so I handed them over. It’s such a small thing to do. I would imagine there’s volunteer opportunities in women’s shelters, etc., as well.

  4. Thanks Jodi for sharing your heart and reminding us to just allow God to use us however a small part that may be. Giving 2 slices of pizza probably meant a brighter day for that person. We never know …

  5. Staggering statistics – I am so with you on “not ready for that”. Of course it is because of getting burned in the past, where I was in a position to help renters by lowering rent on property and they skipped out without paying the remainder of the lease AND stole my refrigerator. I swore “never again”… but maybe??

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