Posts Tagged ‘shelters’

“Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.”
(Genesis 13:13)

What was the sin of Sodom that was so great and outrageous in the eyes of God? What was the sin that so angered him, so outraged him, that he annihilated the city with fire and brimstone? Many think it was the sin of homosexuality and point to the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis chapters 18-19. Although Sodom is mentioned many times in both Old and New Testaments and is synonymous with great and outrageous wickedness, the truth is that Sodom’s greatest sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Just like Sodom, America has lost her way. She no longer knows right from wrong. She has turned away from the way of truth and light found in the Bible and followed in the way of lust, wickedness, immorality and evil. She has lost contact with Biblical moral standards – that set of attitudes, outlooks and values that the Bible represents. She has rejected God and followed his great adversary, the Devil, who is the master of illusion and deception. She has lost her faith in God and instead put her faith and confidence in the god of this world.

People have exchanged the truth of God for the false ideas, dogmas, religious traditions, doctrines of men and secular humanism. Spiritual darkness has descended on the land. The evidence is everywhere. There can be no better or more convincing evidence of this than the way the country has condoned and embraced that great sin of pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffer on our streets.

The fact that we now live in a country in which so many people view themselves as Christians and yet condone and accept behavior that is so radically at odds with the outlooks and attitudes of the Bible shows the extent to which even Christianity has become twisted, contorted, corrupted and perverted in this land.

A person is not a Christian just because he/or she calls themselves a Christian or because they are a member of some church or denomination, or because they recited some robotic prayer to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Just believing in God doesn’t make one a Christian either. Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! (James 2:19)

Christianity is about substance. It’s about what and who you really are inside. It’s about a faith and love in God that is accompanied by serious godly, upright living. It’s about an attitude and commitment of the heart–a commitment that results in virtuous, good, moral living. It’s a mind-set, a way of thinking, a philosophy, a set of outlooks, attitudes and values based on God’s Word. It’s a lifestyle against sin and a lifestyle of goodness and virtue.

The Christmas season is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of Jesus. But more than any other time of the year you will find people rushing through retail stores pushing, shoving and fighting over trinkets that will be broken or discarded within a year–while others are praying for a warm meal and a safe place for their children to sleep. A person who considers himself a Christian and sees nothing wrong with this gross depravity is deceived.

As C.S. Lewis puts it in his short essay ‘The Weight of Glory’: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The world is hungry, lonely and hurting. It needs to know the loving, accepting God of the Bible–not the haughty, uncaring and judgmental God that we have shown the world for too long.

So instead of ignoring the poor as you mindlessly drop a few coins into the Salvation Army bucket on your way out of the store, maybe you could buy a few extra things. Take them home and wrap them up to give to a few homeless people in your city. You see, sometimes God doesn’t just want our money. Sometimes he wants us to be Jesus to someone who is hungry, lonely and hurting.

Here is what God has said regarding the poor:

“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

 

 

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:5-7)

I sympathize with the children who have made the long and dangerous trek across our borders from Mexico and Central America. If I were a child surrounded by gang violence and drug cartels I don’t know that I wouldn’t illegally cross a border in order to be safe. But since President Obama has opened the flood gates for these children there has been many documented cases of communicable diseases brought over our borders.

Why not treat these children BEFORE shipping them to various parts of our country knowingly exposing them to other children in our schools as well as other  undocumented children?   I would think that Michelle Obama would be all over this, considering her stance on improving children’s health.

The link below describes what I’ve been wondering since news of the outbreak of entrovirus in many schools…

http://citizenwells.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/obama-responsible-for-spread-of-enterovirus-and-other-diseases-by-illegal-alien-children-from-central-america-obama-ignored-warnings-from-prominent-health-officials-obama-more-concerned-about-electi/

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)

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 group of advocates for military veterans and high-profile local supporters want to build new temporary housing for homeless veterans. The project is called “Vets Town,” and aspires to provide housing and job training.

There were an estimated 600 homeless veterans in the Omaha area last year. Organizers said that the site could house 54 people immediately and potentially expand to more than 100 residents. The project would provide medical assistance to veterans, along with job training and educational opportunities.

But now, the Omaha World Herald has reported that fractures have appeared in the plan to build the new Omaha housing project for homeless veterans one week after Mayor Jim Suttle joined civic and business leaders at a City Hall press conference to build support for the effort.

Organizers said last week they were in the earliest stages of raising the estimated $3 million needed to construct the facility, when Mike Fornear, national operations manager for the Homeless Veterans Project, and Ed Shada, a local bank executive and head of Project Homeless Connect Omaha, both claimed that they own the name “Vets Town”.

Fornear said he copyrighted the term “Vets Town” last summer for a transitional housing for veterans and turned to Project Homeless Connect Omaha as a potential development partner. Shada said Fornear had no claim to the name “Vets Town” and said his attorneys had filed for use of the name and associated websites.

News of the severed relationship took Suttle’s office by surprise and it was unclear whether other civic leaders would remain involved with the Homeless Veterans Project.

This news was heartbreaking for me since my heart is drawn so much to the homeless community, and especially to those who have sacrificed so much for our country; and now this much needed project will be delayed even more over ownership of the name?

Sadly, this type of scenario plays out all too often within organizations designed to help those in the community. Many times I have witnessed unnecessary competition between different homeless shelters. All of them are committed to helping the homeless community and do a great job of offering a much needed service to the most vulnerable in the community. But I often wonder how much more they could accomplish if they would just work together.

And it’s no different within the church community. I read in the Bible that the early Church worked to bring unity to the Body of Christ. “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32- NLT) But today The Church is divided in heart and mind and share very little of what they have.

Twice I have tried to start a Christian coffee house ministry and both times the local businesses were very supportive of the plan. But in both instances it was the local churches that criticized the plan and worked against it — Possibly out of fear of losing members.

I have even seen divisions within a church body itself! Many church bodies have been split over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary! This should not be! How do churches expect to draw others into the kingdom when there is so much infighting among its members?

These churches and organizations could take a lesson from the seven counties of metro Denver where, despite the increased need in these tough economic times — For the first time in years, have banded together to ensure that people who need shelter will not end up sleeping on the streets. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16900806

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford –