Action Plan: DOWNTOWN HOMELESSNESS

We have a core value of ACTION.  It means that when we see something wrong, we try to respond in thoughtful ways.  Here's the BIG QUESTION:  How do we LOVE/DISCIPLE/BRIDGE ?

what’s the problem?

I pass by people every day downtown walking to-and-from work.  Jesus tells us to feed the poor.  He doesn’t guarantee that we will solve the problem of poverty.  We are definitely called to get involved.  Poverty is simply something we are not allowed to ignore.

 

what does scripture say?

THE POOR

  • Proverbs 20:13 - Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.
  • Proverbs 21:5 - The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
  • Proverbs 22:2 - The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.
  • Proverbs 28:6 - Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
  • Proverbs 31:8-9 - Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
  • Proverbs 17:5 - Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
  • Proverbs 29:7 - A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
  • Amos 5:24 - But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

SERVING THE POOR

  • Proverbs 19:17 - Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
  • 1 John 3:17-18 - But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
  • Isaiah 58:10 - If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  (blessings are promised to those who help the poor.  It makes you happy.)
  • Acts 20:35 - In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
  • Proberbs 28:27 - Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
  • 1 Timothy 5:8 - But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  • Matthew 26:11 - For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.
  • Matthew 25 - 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

 

what are the guiding spiritual principles?

Proverbs talks a lot about the poor.  On one hand, Proverbs certainly recognizes the personal responsibility for some of this trapped in poverty.  On the other hand, Proverbs calls for compassion and generosity from those with material blessing from the poor.  This is a huge point.  I think that sometimes as an American-born Capitalist, I have almost been trained to look past the poor.  I’ve said things like, “they are probably drug addicts.”  Don’t give them money, they will probably just buy booze.

MATTHEW 5:42 - Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

All of these things might be true.  However, it doesn’t seem to release the people of God from the following:

  • Giving to the poor
  • Noticing the poor
  • Caring about the poor
  • Not mocking the poor
  • and for those with the ability, to actively advocate for the rights of the poor

 

2 Groups / 2 Responses

Jesus affirms a lot of this in the New Testament.  However, the bible talks about two different types of poor people.  

1.  The first group that bible discusses are those we are in relationship with.  If someone is in our family (spiritual or natural), we are really called to help them get out of poverty.  Their needs are our needs.  We can’t ignore them.  The idea in the next is that these people are working hard and just can’t get ahead.  

2.  The other group consists of strangers trapped in the cycle of poverty.  Jesus makes it clear that the SYSTEM of poverty is something that will never be broken until His kingdom comes, once and for all.  However, when we are generous to strangers, without ever thinking of the outcome or result, it will be seen in the kingdom as serving Jesus Himself.

 

Bottom line -

  • We will not solve the system of poverty (right now).
    • Poverty is a big symptom of the broken disease of sin.
    • Just like other diseases, sometimes people living healthy lives get sick.
    • Sometimes otherwise healthy people live unhealthy lifestyles that lead to sickness.
    • In both cases, compassion and treatment are the answer.
    • Same thing with poverty.
       
  • We are called to actively love the poor.
    • We are will be supernaturally blessed and happy when we give to the poor.
    • We are called to be actively involved with others.
    • We are called to advocate for them, give them a voice, and give them our stuff
    • I’m not sure cash is the answer.  If we are proactive in our generosity, we can be prepared to give in ways that might actually help.

 

what’s the plan to love/disciple/bridge?


LOVE

  • purchase 20 $5 gift cards a month
  • when people ask for money, or as the Spirit guides, give out the gift cards
  • build a website asking for gift card donations
  • make an easy way for people to give

    phase 2

  • begin a writing project
  • ask to interview 1 homeless person a week
  • write their story, and hang onto their interviews
  • set up a survey on the website when talking to the homeless
  • gather as much data as possible
    • name
    • hometown
    • how long in Portland
    • how long have them been homeless

 

DISCIPLE

  • Attach a note with a simple principle from scripture
  • take a few moments to make eye contact, learn a name, and hear a story
  • offer to pray

 

BRIDGE

  • Become familiar with local ministries and churches in the area that offer to help
  • Pray about:  homeless dignity gathering