Sunday, November 11, 2007

so, you want a homeless shelter?

Dear Citizens of Abilene, Texas (the fair mother city):

Rumor has it that you want a homeless shelter. I’ve heard this for years, even back when I helped run a once-a-week shelter with the izzy group ministry at the Happy Days Community Church’s building.

This subject always seems to come up around this time of year, when the weather gets cooler and a local ministry does its annual food/clothing and all-around resource drive. And of course, something like the recent sad news of a homeless man’s murder can make this a front-burner issue fueled by local media, even if it’s nothing more than a platform for funding local ministries.

Most people who want this shelter are christians and thus, followers of Jesus’ teachings. Sounds good to me.

What I don’t understand is: why are we expecting someone else to do the dirty work? You know, some volunteers or poorly paid employees of a non-prof to be the ones to do this?

Why don’t YOU do it?

Seriously. Why create another building, another non-prof, another system, another machine, another heartless nightmare where people become projects and trophies?

Abilene has some 150* church buildings. And I would bet all of them are fine, functional facilities that only get used three times a week at most.

Why not buy a bunch of inflatable air mattresses and open your church's doors? Maybe one or two nights a week? Maybe only during inclement weather? Hell, if the churches won’t do it, why not open the doors of our homes to an individual or two?

If we christians follow the teachings of a guy who fed 5000 people with some kid’s lunch, then why do we wait for the million dollar check to fund some imaginary group of heroes to do this for us?

Start with what you have. Let’s get going.

*not an accurate count, but in 1997 the official number of registered churches (not buildings) was 147.


miller said...

ya know b, if you want to invite homeless strangers to live in your house with your kids thats your business...

but don't ask me to do it.

JesusFreak said...

There aren't that many homeless people in Clyde. We thought there was one one time, but it turned out he was from the House of Yahweh. Maybe I can work on bringing homeless people to Clyde first...

In seriousness, I do agree with what you're saying (maybe not actually inviting them into my home. it's not because they're home-challenged either. i just don't like people in my personal space that i don't know very well.) That instead of creating a whole other institution to house the homeless, why not just use the resources we currently have. It could also function how Habitats for Humanity does. The people who are in the program have to do something in some way to help with the house that is being built for them or for someone else who is in the program. That includes helping with what ever repairs or building the house needs, or making food for the workers, or helping in the HH offices.

Agent B said...

Note: I wouldn't flippantly recommend that just anyone house some random homeless person.

Before doing so you should a) know their culture well and b) know the person well and c) do what the CEO tells you.

But I include that suggestion into my "open letter" as not to miss any believers who have no access to a church building like myself.

And btw...this was an open letter directed to the dozens or so murmurings I've heard over the last 7 years from christians that demand Abilene get a homeless shelter...