Hello all Blog Readers. My name is Nate Alcorn, and I was recently hired as the new Director of Missions & Community Outreach.
Monday night, I had the opportunity of joining the Hands of Hope Ministry downtown for their visit with the homeless. I felt at home. I don’t know how to explain it except that it always amazes me how ‘normal’ the people are. I say the word ‘normal’ because no matter how much I try to shake my misconceptions, I still have a thought in my head that says, “Something must be wrong with them for them to end up on the streets.” But when I interact with them, my misconceptions disappear, and I see that we are the same: people who God loves. We all have our misconceptions, and the only way to get over them is to confront them and find out the truth.
But each time, I am reminded they are people just like me except they have experienced countless misfortunes and have no support network to pick them back up. Some have made poor choices, and some continue to make poor choices, but many lack a support system to help them get through life.
It would be hard for me to end up homeless because of the strong support system I have. Even if I experience a job loss, an addiction, or a mental disorder, I have a support system. I know my wife, my parents, my brothers and sisters, and even my closest friends would do anything to help me out. I have learned that many homeless people are completely on their own, so they end up on the streets. There many other factors that contribute to homelessness, but I have found that lack of support is a major influence.
That being said, there is no answer or quick fix to helping end homelessness, but it does not mean we stop helping. Even if someone chooses to remain on the streets, which according to the 2012 Regional Task Force on the Homeless in SD report is only 7% of the homeless population in SD County (see page 22 of the report), I believe we should remain committed to building relationships them.
What can we do?
Pray. Yes, we always pray. Feed and clothe. Yes, because it is an aid to meet their most basic human needs and it brings dignity. Listen to and encourage them. Yes, so that they know we genuinely care for them. And we can guide them to rehabilitation programs that will assist and support them.
What beliefs do you hold about the homeless people you encounter? Ask God to reveal His truth about our homeless neighbors and to show you how He would have you go out and show His love.