Just saying hello to a homeless person can mean a lot . Loneliness can be a homeless person’s best friend, and as a group the homeless need to know that they are human.
In her column, Attitudes towards the Homeless Affect us All, Hailey Yook relates how the homeless who are regularly seen on the Berkeley University campus, where tolerance and open mindedness are preached, are treated — very poorly. http://www.dailycal.org/2014/03/03/attitudes-toward-homeless-affect-us/
A little more than a year ago, I started hanging out with the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA. I heard their stories, have helped them move their campsites after they were evicted, and have broken bread with them, mainly at the community meals which they told me about.
There were and are people who have done more than just greet the homeless here in Bucks County. They have sat down with them and have gotten to know them and established relationship with them. There was an advocate who regularly visited the homeless who hung out at the Levittown Public Library and the nearby Veteran’s Memorial. She not only helped them with material needs, but also ministered to them by comforting them in their trails.
The hosts at the community meals for the homeless and needy have also reached out to the homeless. The hosts and their regular guests know one another by name.
What the community meals are not: When those in need come to one of the churches for a meal, they are not treated the way Jeff Dunham’s Walter would act as a greeter at Walmart: “Welcome to Walmart; get your sh** and get out!”
The hosts at these meals for the homeless and needy don’t just put food out and stand at a distance. They listen to their stories and try to help them resolve problems and generally make the homeless feel at home. At my last community meal, on Sunday afternoon, some of the hosts prayed with their guests. One of them sat at a table with their guests for more than ½ hour, helping them sort things out and generally conversing with them.
The homeless need understanding and compassion, not judgmentalism. People have become that way because of economics or because of addictions and other bad decisions or a combination of the two. In either case, the homeless should not be written off, condemned.
Not all homeless people are drunks, druggies, and people with major attitude problems. Just being homeless, however, one can develop a bad attitude.
Treating the homeless like lepers is wrong and does not help the situation.
“My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here, please,’ while you say to the poor one, ‘Stand there,’ or ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?”
Like the rest of us, they need God. As Christians, we are commanded to show other’s God’s love.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”