Posts Tagged ‘joblessness’

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Researcher George Otis Jr. writes in Charisma Magazine.com: “Of the nearly 800 cases of authentic, transforming revival in the last 15 years, only two were in North America.”

So why has it been so long since the Church has experienced a true spiritual revival like those in the 1800s? Because our need for a true spiritual revival will always be determined by our true condition. The question of whether we will actually experience revival depends on how we perceive our condition. But until there is a conviction of need, there will never be a desire for change.

I find it interesting that so many Christians quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a formula for revival in the land. But they totally overlook verse 13: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…” And then concludes with verse 14.

Why do so many Christians purposely overlook verse 13? Possibly, like Israel of old before they were exiled to Babylon, Christians today refuse to believe that God would purposefully bring adversity to us. (See Jeremiah 29:1-14) If all Christians in America would heed God’s warning and do what this verse says, I believe revival would come, but so far it hasn’t happened–Mainly because most Christians in the land have not repented.

Throughout history nations have fallen because people forgot God and did what was right in their own minds. (Judges 17:6) One only has to examine the fall of the Roman Empire to see that this is true. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet learned from the mistakes of our ancestors. The major causes for the fall of the Roman Empire were:
• Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor
• Decline in Morals which led to the Gladiatorial Games
• Political Corruption
• Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending
• Failing Economy
• Unemployment of the Working Classes
• Decline in Ethics and Values

Sound familiar?

There is much talk in Christian circles these days about “taking back our cities for God”. And there is no shortage of books and evangelists who promote strategies for transforming everything from our neighborhoods to Hollywood to Washington, D.C. But God has not called us to win the so-called culture war. He has not called us to change the world, but to overcome it. But how do we overcome the world when we have become so much like it?
I recently read an article that listed U.S. companies that were considered to be religious.
Yahoo Finance

Many of the companies were listed simply because they print Bible verses on their products or claim to begin meetings with prayer. But quoting a Bible verse or starting a meeting with a prayer does not necessarily make you religious. Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matt. 7:15-18)
What are the fruits some of the so called religious companies listed in the article?

• Forever 21 – Sells skimpy clothing for young trendy girls.
• Tyson Foods -The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint against Tyson Foods, Inc. for violating the Federal Trade Commission Act after it was revealed that workers routinely abused animals.
• Jet Blue airlines – Lowest rated airline since they stranded passengers for hours in 2011.
• Carl’s Jr. – Uses racy videos with scantily clad women to sell their unhealthy menu.

An even better Old Testament passage than 2 Chronicles 7:14 concerning revival can be found in Psalms 85:6: “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” King David, who was a man after God’s heart, knew that the purpose of revival was so that people would rejoice in God. Revival is not to be used bring glory to a program or a denomination or a person, but to God.

This verse places the origin of revival in God and not man. It is God who must quicken us that we may be changed to a people that rejoice in the Lord. If God is the one who sends revival, then He is the one we must plead with. We must ask Him to send revival on the land. We must cast ourselves on His mercy and ask that He send what we do not deserve. We deserve judgment as a nation for our sins, but we must intercede with God to have mercy upon us and to turn us around by His mighty power. We need God’s mercy toward us in this hour that He might turn us around that we might be a people who will acknowledge Him and rejoice in Him.

We need to pray as the prophet Daniel did: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land…Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Read Daniel 9:1-19)

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezek. 16:49)

Bangladesh’s Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith downplayed the impact of last week’s factory building collapse on his country’s garment industry, saying Friday he didn’t think it was “really serious” just hours after the 500th body was pulled from the debris. The government has recently suspended the mayor there and arrested an engineer who had called for the building’s evacuation last week, but was also accused of helping the owner add three illegal floors to the eight-story structure. The building owner was arrested earlier. The official death toll from the April 24 collapse reached 512 Friday and was expected to climb, making it likely the deadliest garment-factory accident in world history.

The minimum wage for a garment worker there is only $38.00 a month! And that is only after being nearly doubled this year following violent protests by workers! According to the World Bank, the per capita income in Bangladesh was only about $64.00 a month in 2011!

According to data from Bangladesh’s commerce ministry and industry sources, Bangladesh ships about $15.6 billion of ready-made garments each year – about 80 percent of its total exports. Sixty percent of its garment exports go to Europe, the United States takes 23 percent, and Canada takes 5 percent. About 18 months before this tragedy in Bangladesh a fire killed 112 people in a textile factory in Tazreen in which locked doors prevented workers from fleeing to safety.

Shareholders at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the opportunity to weigh in on the safety question. By a nearly 50-to-1 margin, they rejected a proposal to require suppliers to report annually on safety issues at their factories. In arguing against the proposal, Wal-Mart’s management made its reasoning clear: “Having suppliers compile such reports could ultimately lead to higher costs for Walmart and higher prices for our customers. This would not be in the best interests of Walmart’s shareholders and customers and would place Walmart at a competitive disadvantage.”

Wal-Mart and Sears’ shares have moved higher since the Tazreen fire last November. That disaster did not appear to have any measurable impact on sales at Wal-Mart and Sears after both acknowledged their products were made there.

The larger tragedy I see is that consumers will continue to purchase products from brands like Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory and Loblaw’s Joe Fresh found in the ruins of the factory building this week. Many people justify it by saying, “I go there because it’s cheap.” Or, “I’m on a limited income and I can’t afford to shop anywhere else.”

The unemployment rate is down to 7.5 percent and we gained 16,000 non-farm jobs last month, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Morgan Stanley report said “the current investment in U.S. manufacturing remains at depressed levels.” With the loss of 5.5 million manufacturing jobs this decade, and the residual impact (for every one manufacturing job there are five others created – truck drivers, accountants, research & development, clerical, etc.), the U.S. has seen a loss of over 30 million jobs.

While many who read this will try to blame this problem on Democrats or Republicans, this is NOT a political problem! This is a spiritual problem!

I am reminded of James 5:4-6 that says, “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”

We have lost our moral compass and have become like Sodom–arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; refusing to help the poor and needy.

But what can we do?

Repent of our selfishness and arrogance! Then refuse to purchase goods that are sold on the backs of slave labor with the wages covered in the blood of the poor!

This has had a huge impact on not only our economy and national security but also on our very survival! Since government has not provided a solution, it is time for us to take action before it’s too late.

American Made Products Directory:  http://www.americansworking.com/

Today over half of the world’s population lives in large cities. Many Christians think cities are by nature, evil places. If they were asked, they would say the city is a curse, not a blessing – A breeding ground for poverty and homelessness. However, that is not God’s view. After all, the human story begins in a garden and ends in the great city, the New Jerusalem!

Most cities seem to hold a collective vision, and there is usually both a good and evil side to that vision. I believe God has participated in our cities by stationing high-ranking guardian angels over each one. However, Satan will do anything in his power to accuse your city and to malign its redemptive gift.

The experience of Elisha’s servant is recorded in 2 Kings 6:16-17: “So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. ‘And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  If our eyes were opened like Elisha’s servant, what would we see? Would God reveal a divine purpose? How would we react once we were aware of that purpose?

The Purpose For Your City
When traveling through your city have you ever asked, “Why is this town here?” God always has a reason for everything He does, and the reason your town is where it is usually stems from the geography of the location, such as a mountain pass, rich soil, mineral wealth, or a river crossing. The earth has been lovingly crafted as a habitation for people. God anticipated the development of your city. And He marked out a place in it just for you.

Consider the city of Los Angeles; on one hand, it is a technological tower of Babel, polluting the world with its communications and entertainment industry. On the other hand, it is a city with a gift in communications. Los Angeles is a city blessed by God with certain resources that can either be perverted – or used to further the kingdom of God. Even the name of the city speaks of its destiny: “Los Angeles” is Spanish for “The Angels.” The word ‘angel’ in the Greek is angeloss and means, messenger. I believe God designed Los Angeles to be a messenger, communicating the good news in the midst of an end time harvest.

Indeed, this plan of God has already enjoyed success several times in history: In 1906 through the Azusa Street Revival; in 1949 through an evangelical renewal leading to the birth of such groups as Campus Crusade For Christ and the launching of the Billy Graham Crusades as a national ministry; and in 1972 with the beginning of the Jesus Movement. But today the city is torn by violence, poverty and homelessness while it pumps pornography into the minds of millions.

Rebuilding The Walls
God desires to rebuild the walls of our cities, and I believe it must begin with the leadership in His churches. But it seems as if the Church today remains asleep as the world around us falls deeper into sin and despair. If the Church would only wake from its slumber God would pour out revelation concerning His redemptive plans for our cities. It was to the Jews living in the wicked city of Babylon that God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

Unless you understand Biblical warfare you will be frustrated, confused, and ineffective in your ministry to your city. You may be attempting to coordinate Christian concerts, pioneer a church, or reach businessmen, but the principle is still the same: We need to gain a place of authority over Satan before we will see the full fruit of our labors.

Binding The Strong Man
Jesus said, “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matt. 12.-29) Discerning the nature of principalities at work in your city can be as simple as asking God to tell you what’s going on. But God also wants us to use our minds in reasoning through the things He has already taught us and then applying them. Ask yourself the question: “Why is this city here? Is it merely a product of geography and commerce, or does God have a redemptive purpose in mind for it?” Your city is also God’s city. And the people are made in His image. Satan is an invader and a usurper operating in our territory. God did not give demons authority over your city. They have infested the earth’s atmosphere since before the creation of mankind, but they can only extend their authority into a town or an institution when people give them that authority through their sin.

This is our planet, and the only authority Satan has, he has gained through deception of human authority. He initially gains this authority when, at some point in history, human beings believe his lie, receive his accusation, and are seduced into an allegiance to his plan. An obvious example would be the spirit of greed which has infected our political system and still dominates the culture of politics to this day. But what can we do about this today? Scripture gives us an answer. Through repentance, reconciliation, and prayer, this present generation can work to repair the broken-down walls of the city.

Bringing Down Strongholds
“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” (Is. 58:12) The strongholds that bind our urban populations have power, but they are not invincible. They’re vulnerable, and, if we move wisely, we can overthrow them. In his book, “Taking Our Cities For God” by John Dawson, he shares a five-fold approach to bringing down our cities’ strongholds:

1) Begin with worship and praise.
Everything born of God goes through a very natural process: worship, conception, gestation, travail, and birth. So always begin with worship. It’s in the place of thanksgiving and praise that God conceives within us His mind and heart for our city. No longer join with Satan, the accuser of your city, but lift up your heart in thanksgiving as you declare by faith the effect that the gospel will have! Do you want revival in your city? Do you want to defeat the powers of darkness? The way to get rid of darkness is to turn on the light, to establish the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people through praise!

2) Wait on the Lord for insight.
Don’t rely on finite reasoning or human cunning. If we listen to God with childlike dependency, He will guide us into victory. Breaking the strongholds that bind our urban populations will take prayer that will flood our hearts with conviction of sin. We must see ourselves in the light of God’s true holiness and rid ourselves of every hindrance through open confession and repentance. Even then, it may take days of prayer to receive a clear picture of the principalities and powers attempting to control our city. The Lord will expose the tactics of the enemy and give us strategies for his defeat. When we wait on the Lord and give Him room to move – He moves. This was an important factor and is a characteristic of every divine visitation in history.

3) Identify with the sins of the city.
The great intercessors of the Bible all approached God with a sense of shame and sincere repentance. (As the prophet Daniel did as recorded in the 9th chapter of Daniel. “O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.”) Our communication with God must be rooted in the truth – the eternal truth of His holy standards and the awful truth about our society as God sees it. The intercessor experiences the broken heart of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The intercessor also identifies with the sin of the people, because the intercessor has personally contributed to God’s grief. In responding to the broken heart of God, we must identify with the sins of the city in personal and corporate repentance. It is only when God has cleansed our own wicked hearts that participation in the redeeming work of intercession becomes possible. It is then that the power to change history is released through prayer.

4) Overcome evil with good.
Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) Overcoming evil with good is not merely a spiritual technique, but represents a means of applying the victory Jesus already gained. When we come against the enemy, we by faith manifest the aspect of Christ’s character that is the opposite of the temptation facing us. Take, for instance, Jesus’ statement regarding a particular evil spirit. “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matt. 1 7:21) The admonition to abstain from food is probably because the power of God was hindered until they yielded themselves further to the control of the Holy Spirit through a particular step of obedience – a step involving the opposite spirit, an act of self-control.

5) Travail until birth.
There are times when God’s Spirit stirs our souls through times of intense travail. We must travail in prayer until God’s purposes are birthed. That which is conceived of God will eventually come to birth. When Christians of a city unite in spiritual travail, it is an indicator of impending revival. When you truly love somebody, you don’t just mention that person before the Lord. You pray until that which is needed happens, until the answer comes, until breakthrough. Love settles for nothing less than victory. If you are praying for a family member who is in bondage, you are not released from the burden until that person is saved, set free, and set in order. This is the way we should pray for our cities. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7)

The level of a spiritual victory for your city is directly affected by two spiritual conditions: the intensity of your desire and the size of your faith. God wants to see if you want the minimum or the maximum. Do you want institutional survival – or citywide revival? Will you and I be prepared to pay the price for victory over our cities? There is a high price to be paid in personal discipline, prayer, and obedience. Like you, I live on a dying planet, a dark place polluted with demons, but growing in my heart is a fierce joy. Jesus came to reveal the Father, to atone for us, and to teach us how to live. He also came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has commissioned us to do likewise.

I’m not suggesting that Christians take over the city in a governmental sense or even that Christian action can halt all the institutional and personal evil of those who have rejected Christ. I’m suggesting that the power of the resurrected Christ is released when God’s people are united in citywide prayer.

Business as usual is not good enough. God has much more in mind. Are our expectations of God too low? Are we participating in the sin of unbelief when we entertain despair or indifference over the moral, environmental, social, and spiritual needs of our cities?

The power of the gospel has radically impacted the life of cities for over 2,000 years, but most importantly our cities must become places of harvest. In the early 70’s we saw the youth of the counter-culture swept into the Kingdom, but that was a long time ago. There is now an entire generation missing the true gospel message! Today’s youth culture needs a revelation of Jesus! Citywide prayer gatherings should be springing up all over America! Tears of repentance should be flowing! And if the Church doesn’t wake up we will miss the day of God’s merciful visitation. God is definitely up to something. Let’s get involved and take back our cities for God!

This article includes excerpts from Taking Our Cities For God by John Dawson. ©1989 Creation House Publishers, Lake Mary, Florida. Used by permission from Last Days Ministries. http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Groups/1000002797/Last_Days_Ministries.aspx

I recently read an article that immediately filled me anger. The article, in the Spokesman-Review in Washington State, reported that about 30 homeless people have died during 2012 and at least four were 17 and two others were between 18 and 20!

The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers.  Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death.  It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide!

The death of any young person is tragic. Kevin M. Ryan wrote in his blog that he had attended the funeral of a young man he’s known most of his life, who died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 21 a few days after Christmas.  He relates how, at the funeral, the church was packed with hundreds of family and friends.

While reading these sad and tragic stories I couldn’t help but think of what might have happened; how these precious lives could have been saved and changed for the better, if only someone who attended one of these funerals would have stepped up and helped them. Maybe they too, would be alive today and be following their dreams.

Over the past five years my wife and I have opened our home to a dozen men, women and children who were in need of a home. I’m happy to report that today they all have homes of their own and doing well.

Reading articles like this should cause a righteous rage to well up inside of every Christian’s heart and spur them to action.  I pray that more people will step up and help more of these vulnerable people instead of attending their funerals.

“I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Matthew 25:45)

 

This is what love thy neighbor really means. You may not have a spare house, but how about a spare room?

Click here

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college degrees, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults. Click HERE for labor stats 

Some can move back home with their parents, but that’s not an option for those whose families have been hit hard by the economy. Without a stable home address, they are part of an elusive group that hope to avoid the stigma of public homelessness and are missed by many yearly homeless counts. They are mostly couch surfers or sleep hidden away in cars or other private places, during what they hope will be a temporary predicament.
These young adults have joined the new face of a national homeless population; one that poverty experts and case workers say is growing. Yet the problem remains mostly invisible. Most cities and states, that focus on the chronically homeless have not made special efforts to identify and help young adults and homeless families with children, who tend to shy away from ordinary shelters out of fear of being victimized by the chronically homeless who may have criminal backgrounds or who are mentally unstable.

$20.5-million complex for the chronically homeless?
The Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles is building a 102-unit, $20.5-million complex by stacking pre-outfitted apartments atop one another in a Lego-like fashion to save time and money. The residents will pay 30% of their monthly job or government assistance income as rent but are not required to seek on-site medical treatment, psychiatric counseling, drug or alcohol treatment or therapy as a condition of residency.

“The thought is, how do we help people make the choice that is best for them,” said Mike Alvidrez, executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust, who stressed the trust’s Housing First model — a philosophy that has caught fire nationwide. Alvidrez said, “The first step to helping someone recover from a chronic drug or alcohol problem is to give them a home and sense of community.”
But will someone who has a permanent residence they can afford seek out psychiatric counseling, drug or alcohol treatment on their own? Most likely, they will not. But thankfully, the problem can be hidden from the people of Los Angeles now. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-skid-row-housing-20121216,0,1039440.story

Not all shelters agree with this “Housing First” philosophy.
Founded in 1975, the Siena/Francis House is Nebraska’s largest shelter, providing food, emergency shelter & clothing, along with outreach/case management to homeless families and individuals from Omaha and surrounding communities. The Siena/Francis House also houses a residential chemical addictions treatment center, a day services center, an employment training program, and a medical clinic. The Siena/Francis House has a policy that tries to never turn away any person or family who comes to them in need, regardless of their circumstances.

In 2011 the Siena/Francis House served 418,107 meals and provided 156,258 nights of shelter to approximately 4,000 homeless men, women and children. In pursuing the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of homelessness – one person at a time – the Siena/Francis House provides a residential addiction recovery program, aptly named “Miracles Treatment Center”. Any person who desires to participate in the Miracles Treatment Center must be willing to commit to stay at least 120 days in the Siena/Francis House’s residential program, enter its job training program, and provide 40 service hours per week at the shelter.

The Siena/Francis House’s belief is that, by finding value and untapped abilities in people that society has overlooked, they help them find value in themselves. By providing persons in the Miracles Treatment Center with counseling, education, job training, and life and independent living skills, they furnish them the tools that will help them recover from, and successfully manage the problems that brought them to the doors of the Siena/Francis House in the first place. It is through programs like this that people receive a vision for a new future; one that is positive; because without vision people are destroyed.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)

William Booth was born in Sneinton, Nottingham, the only son of four surviving children born to Samuel Booth and Mary Moss. William’s father was wealthy by the standards of the time, but during William’s childhood, as a result of bad investments, the family descended into poverty and his father became an alcoholic. In 1842, Samuel Booth, who by then was bankrupt, could no longer afford his son’s school fees, and 13-year-old William was apprenticed to a pawnbroker. Samuel Booth died later that same year.

William Booth did not enjoy his job in the pawnbroker’s shop, but it made him only too aware of the poverty in which people lived and how they suffered humiliation and degradation because of it. Two years into his apprenticeship William Booth was converted and later became an evangelist. One day in 1865 he found himself in the East End of London, preaching to crowds of people in the streets outside the ‘Blind Beggar Pub’.

Slowly the mission began to grow but the work was hard and William would stumble home night after night haggard with fatigue, often with his clothes torn and bloody bandages wrapped on his head where a stone had struck him. Evening meetings were held in an old warehouse where urchins threw stones and fireworks through the window. It was not until 1878 when ‘The Christian Mission’ changed its name to ‘The Salvation Army’ that things began to happen. The idea of an Army fighting sin caught the imagination of the people and the Army began to grow rapidly. Booth’s fiery sermons and sharp imagery drove the message home and more and more people found themselves willing to leave their past behind and start a new life as a soldier in The Salvation Army.

Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. Sadly, many organizations like the Salvation Army, whose primary purpose began with winning souls and discipling new converts, have either become not much more than another social service program or have altogether dissolved.  Where are the William Booths–the Keith Greens–or the Leonard Ravenhills of today?

I fear they have been replaced with televangelists, computers, and iPhones. Our technology today gives us the ability to reach millions of people at once but it seems we don’t take the time to reach out to our neighbors right next door! And with all of our technology we’re no different today than we were during William Booth’s day:

In William Booth’s own words:

I pray that we all become more serious about the souls of mankind and Stand By The Door…

I Stand at the Door by Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)

I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world –
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door – the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it – live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in –
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. ‘Let me out!’ they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving – preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door –
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But – more important for me –
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

I had rather be a door-keeper… So I stand by the door.

 

I came across this article of a police officer giving boots to barefoot homeless man in New York. Had it not been for a tourist from Arizona who snapped a picture of this officer’s generous good deed no one may have ever known about it. Although there have been many complaints about the police, (and many might be well founded) I wonder how many of those who complain about the police walked by this poor man oblivious to his condition? It reminds me of the parable Jesus told in  Luke 10:25-37

Photo of police officer giving boots to barefoot man warms hearts online.

NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams will be airing an interview with Ann Curry Thursday, Nov. 29th that deals with a family of five from Johnson City, Tenn., that despite their homelessness, they are still a working family. There is now a growing number of working families who have become homeless in the wake of the current economic crisis.

Too many people are still holding onto the stereotyped homeless populations; that homeless people are either lazy or drug addicts, alcoholics, or have some type of mental problem. Although these make up a small percentage of the homeless community, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people, many of them hard working families, who are homeless as well.

The number of people in homeless families living in suburban and rural areas rose nearly 60 percent during the Great Recession, according to figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). More than one million school-aged children are now homeless, according to the Department of Education.  And it’s more likely today that your own children are sharing a classroom with a few homeless children. (And possibly joining other classmates in making fun of them)

Many of these employed homeless have worked hard to pursue the American dream. They have college degrees. They worked to build their savings just like they were taught. But when you combine student loan debt with medical bills (Even with the health insurance from work) , a family’s debt can very easily grow into a mountain.

Many families live paycheck to paycheck and still do not have enough to cover their monthly expenses.  They become behind on their rent, and even if they downsize to a smaller apartment in a bad neighborhood they still might not be able to afford rent.

Advocates say there are not enough shelters for the nation’s new wave of homeless families and many shelters separate men, women and children because of security reasons.

Shaun Donovan, the secretary of HUD, said that shelters must begin to use their funding differently to accommodate the rise in homeless families. But at the same time he acknowledged that family-friendly shelters are under-funded.

How many of us are one bad injury or a paycheck away from being homeless?

If you end up in the hospital, you are not earning any money. And if you work and are fortunate enough to have health insurance, you will still most likely have an out of pocket deductible and co-pays. A minimum wage job only pays $290 a week. (Hardly enough to pay for a decent apartment and keep up with medical bills, let alone purchase a house)

I remember when I was homeless for a time and lived in my van because my job at the time didn’t pay enough for me to afford rent. I used a relative’s shower every morning before I went to work. The large church that I was involved with at the time generously offered to let me sleep in a storage closet during the winter. (Do you sense the sarcasm?)

Let’s face it-we live in a very greedy world that refuses to be our brother’s keeper. When I think about all of the wealth available to many of the mega churches in this country that could easily meet the needs of the less fortunate in their communities, I feel like I could walk through those churches and turn over their pews, whipping anyone who tried to stop me.

Unfortunately, I don’t think even such a drastic act would accomplish much more than getting me a room without a view in the local jail.

Even though it’s so easy to blame “the other guy” for the ills of the world, the solution should be directed at myself- What can I do to help? It may not seem like a lot, but I can help the homeless community by donating my time and finances to organizations that minister to the needs of the homeless community. And I can minister one on one to those who are homeless when God gives me the opportunity.

Isn’t that what being a godly person is all about anyway?

Ways to help:

http://www.endhomelessness.org/

http://www.usich.gov/

http://www.familyhomelessness.org/

A charitable marketing program that paid homeless people to carry Wi-Fi signals at South By Southwest has drawn widespread debate at the annual Austin conference and around the country. 

BBH Labs, a unit of the global marketing agency BBH, gave 13 people from Austin’s Front Steps Shelter mobile Wi-Fi devices and T-shirts that announced “I am a 4G Hotspot.” The company paid them $20 up front and a minimum of $50 a day for about six hours work, said Emma Cookson, chairwoman of BBH New York.

She called the experiment a modernized version of homeless selling street newspapers. All of the money paid for Wi-Fi — an often difficult thing to find at SXSW — went to the participants, who were selected in partnership with Front Steps. ($2 was the recommended donation for 15 minutes of use.)

But many have called the program exploitative.

Wired.com wrote that it “sounds like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.”

Technology blog ReadWriteWeb called it a “blunt display of unselfconscious gall.” The topic became one of the most popular in the country on Twitter by Tuesday.

I’ve been homeless before and believe me, it’s no walk in the park. I donated plasma, found odd jobs and did whatever I could legally just to sustain myself from day to day. If something like this came around when I was homeless I’d be one of the first ones in line. They are working and getting paid from the private sector, not from some government program.

Do these critics think it would be better to keep them in abandoned warehouses where they would be kept safely out of sight? I don’t understand the controversy. BBH Labs managed to find some temporary employment for homeless people and folks are complaining about this? Would they be less critical of a restaurant owner who pays minimum wage to a homeless person to wear a chicken suit in front of their fast food restaurant?

Especially when some of the homeless who volunteered to carry Wi-Fi at SXSW made more money in a day than some of the members of some bands playing there. If fact, many of the bands that play SXSW end up paying to play there. http://www2.metrotimes.com/news/story.asp?id=4737

According to Community Action Network, poverty and lack of affordable housing are the two primary reasons that people become and remain homeless. For housing to be considered “affordable” a person/family should spend no more than 30% of his or her gross household income on housing. (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development– HUD) Stable and affordable housing is the critical first step for individuals and families to gain employment and become self-sufficient.

Here are some interesting facts about Austin’s homeless community:

• On any given day, there are approximately 4,000 homeless individuals of which 1,900 are downtown. (Homeless Count 2004)

• Over 1,500 children are affected by homelessness in the Austin Independent School District.

• High Cost of Living Contributes to Homelessness. Austin has the highest housing costs for an urban area in Texas (Texas A&M Real Estate Center Report 2005)

• Low wages Contribute to Homelessness. Of the top ten occupational categories in the Austin area, nearly 30% of those jobs have a median wage of less than $10/hour. (WorkSource)

• The Homeless Stay in the Community. 41.2% of the homeless have lived in the Austin area more than 5 years. (Homeless Task Force, 2004 Survey)

Homelessness often precludes good nutrition and homeless children often experience physical and mental development delays:

• Homeless children suffer more health problems than housed children: 38% of children in homeless shelters have asthma, middle ear infection prevalence is 50% higher than national average, and over 60% of homeless children are under-vaccinated (Redlener & Johnson, 1999)

• Nearly one-fifth of homeless children repeat a grade in school and 16% are enrolled in special education classes –33% higher than housed children; much of this is due to their high mobility rate (Institute for Children & Poverty, 2001)

• At least 20% of homeless children do not attend school. Within a year, 41% of homeless children will attend at least two different schools; 28% of homeless children will attend three or more different schools.

ECHO is Austin’s HUD designated Continuum of Care (CoC) for Austin & Travis County. ECHO is charged with providing dynamic proactive leadership that engages policy makers and the community in ending homelessness. In order to accomplish this, ECHO engages in a variety of activities including serving as the homeless planning entity for the community; and advocating for homeless issues and solutions. 

Interestingly, Austin’s COC has been silent on this issue. I would think that since part of its mission is to advocate for homeless issues and solutions that they would not only support such a venture, but also implement a similar program in its homeless community.

I hope in the future more communities and organizations can implement these types of programs that allow low income people the ability to earn some extra money while retaining some of their dignity.