Grace for The Homeless

In previous blogs, I have challenged attitudes in Bucks County, PA regarding the homeless, being hard on some in the Christian community.

Christians are sinners saved by grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. That is, grace is God doing good for us that we do not deserve. In response for God showing us grace, Christians are to grow in grace and be more like Christ, and show grace towards others.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” –2nd Corinthians 9:7″.

Many churches in lower Bucks County have opened their doors to the homeless. They feed the homeless and needy, talk with them and make them feel at home. They treat their guests as friends. One church in particular, Saint Mark AME Zion Church in Newtown, refers to them as “friends without walls.” To make guests at the meals as well as visitors to the church feel welcome, they sing “So glad you’re here, so glad you’re here, so glad you’re here in Jesus name…”

And they mean it.

Saint Mark hosts early Sunday afternoon meals once a month for their friends without walls. Officially, the meals start at 2 p.m., but some friends drift in as early as an hour before serving time. The church is open, and  people in the church are down where the meals are served, setting up. They chat with the early birds as they drift in.

Throughout the history of the church, some congregations have followed the Word of God more than others. An exemplary early church was The Church at Ephesus, which Jesus Himself praised for its patience. Patience is translated as “endurance under trial.”    This church got a lot of flack from the false religions in the city, but they kept the faith.

Other early churches allowed worldly views to pollute them.

Today the world tries to bring the church down to it’s level. Some “churches” just take on a worldly, judgmental view.

The Salvation Army was established with a mission to help the downtrodden, the poor, the homeless, even the seedy people of the street to give them a hand up to restore them through God’s Word. Today in Levittown, PA, however, the local Salvation Army Community Center helps the homeless grudgingly, not exactly a cheerful giver. They put on a show, much like the Pharisee in the parable in Luke 18 who bragged that he was not like the tax collector who also came to the temple but  faithfully followed the letter of the law.

The meals for the homeless at the Salvation Army start at 6 p.m., sharp. They are not welcomed in until then. And when they enter, social services director Queen Latifah prods them about like cattle and warns them about not running around the building and tells them generally to behave, as if they are children or criminals. There have been countless complaints about the queen, but the boss, Captain Caspar Milquetoast, doesn’t lay down the law. He once told me that he was going to keep her in the kitchen, but he didn’t follow through on it.

Particularly prevalent today is the politically correct, which dictates beliefs contrary to God’s Word. Captain Caspar evidently does not want to take a stand against the queen, for fear of the politically correct. He also didn’t take a stand against community relations and development director The Countess of Carlisle after she, in Stalinist style, punished me for disagreeing with her about the way the homeless are treated by thwarting my offer by an official from division headquarters as a writer for the Salvation Army.

On one occasion, a man who had recently become homeless came to the Salvation Army Levittown Corps (and it’s starting to be rotten at the core) for food. It was hot and he was flushed. I offered him a ride to the Levittown public library, where he could get the bus to the community meal and where an advocate may be able to help him, after I finished my volunteer work at the food pantry. As he was waiting in the uncrowded lobby, the Countess sternly told me he couldn’t hang around. After I explained he was waiting for a ride from me, she reluctantly acquiesced.

In criticizing churches I try to be as gracious as possible. Peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. As Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” But sometimes things must be said and action taken, for example, Jesus driving the money changers out of the church.

As was the case with the early churches, where the apostle Paul encouraged the churches to follow the Word of God, I encourage the churches to show grace towards the homeless, who were made in God’s image. The world, the Bucks County establishment, is cutting the homeless very little slack – they are mostly graceless. Christians must show God’s unconditional love to others.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 5:16

Inmates Running The Asylum

There’s a maniac running around Levittown, PA. It’s not a escapee from a mental institution but, believe it or not, someone who wears a badge. His name is Joe, last name unknown, and is a substitute guard at the municipal building in Levittown. Recently, a sign was posted by the nearby Veterans Memorial to warn the homeless people to remove their property by April 29.

Joe took it upon himself to launch a vendetta against the homeless at the memorial. He told these people, who have nowhere else to go, that they, not just their belongs as the sign says, have to go — that they can’t sleep at the memorial after April 29. He produced no documentation and said that someone forgot to write that the homeless, not just their stuff, has to be out of the memorial by the 29th.

He said this was by order of the Bucks County Commissioners.

Originally, this rogue guard told homeless people that he was going to “remind them” about this starting Monday. But this nutcase couldn’t wait and woke people up at 5 a.m. this morning. One homeless person told me that Joe called him by name and said he was there to remind him and others about vacating on April 29. Joe even brought two Bucks County Rangers with him.

Joe is just a substitute guard at the municipal building, yet, evidently on his own time, he’s been venturing out on his Quixotic mission. The difference between Joe and Don Quixote is that Joe is not attacking windmills, but people.

I think that Joe, who is short, has a Napoleon complex. For those of you in Doylestown, a “Napoleon complex” is a term describing a theoretical condition occurring in people of short stature. It is characterized by overly-aggressive or domineering social behavior, and carries the implication that such behavior is compensatory for the subject’s stature.

This is also known as “little man syndrome” ,a popular term for the inferiority complex that short men (under 5’9′) in society are commonly assumed to possess, which causes them—at least per theory—to overcompensate by trying harder than men of average height (5’10′) in life’s activities

For years the authorities, driven by intolerant, judgmental special interests have been marginalizing the homeless and have constructively been scheming to keep them out of public places, such as the library and the memorial. But this is the most egregious attack on the homeless I’ve learned of in the two years I’ve been associating with the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA. This is harassment, plain and simple.

It’s ironic, hypocritical, that authorities would harass the homeless at the Veterans Memorial, a memorial to those who sacrificed for our freedoms.

The problem with the way homelessness is addressed on nationalhomeless.org: http://nationalhomeless.org/issues/civil-rights/  (WordPress link not working; copy and paste if interested).

Judgmentalism against the homeless is immoral. People who harass the homeless have rationalized their behavior.

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.”

–Proverbs 16:2

 

We Shall Overcome

“Judge a man by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin,” preached Dr. Martin Luther King. In places like Bucks County, PA, judging by the content of one’s character doesn’t apply to the homeless.

Awhile back, I posted about Burger King’s discrimination against a homeless friend in Langhorne and Bristol, PA.  The Langhorne Burger King is near the Oxford Valley Mall and the other is at Bristol Pike and Beaver Dam Road.

At the Langhorne Burger King, I had left my homeless friend, who has cancer and is very thin and looks sickly, there while I took handicapped people to the doctor. My friend bought food, and as she was went to get her free coffee refill, the manager demanded she leave before he called the cops. She called me and I told her to stand her ground. But she was intimidated and went to the nearby Boston Market, where she was allowed to wait for me to pick her up, without having to order anything. It was cold and rainy out, and the creep-manager, a foreigner, didn’t care.

At the Bristol Burger King, I had dropped off my homeless friend, where she ordered a meal.  Again, I had to take someone else somewhere. After I was done, I picked her up. The next time we went to this Burger King together, the shift manager relayed a message from the general manager to tell my friend she wasn’t allowed there. I had to press her for the reason. She said that the general manager, Rene, doesn’t want homeless people there because they panhandle.

My friend never panhandled or caused any problems. The floor manager confessed that she never had a problem with either of us.

I just read a comment on Facebook by  toadies of the manager of the Burger King at Beaver Dam and Bristol Pike in Bristol, PA, where posters offer a lame defense of this callous discrimination:

Desirae Hall I’m quite sure that she is not discriminating against your friend. She is only doing her job. Where else can you go to and sit all day and drink a cup of coffee. At that establishment there is a real problem with the homeless people panhandling as you are dining in. Thank you Renee for respecting the paying customers.

Like · Reply · 1 · December 17, 2015 at 4:54pm

Jakeria Martin She defy ain’t she’s sweet n kind hearted

These hobophobic comments are examples of narrow minded, judgmental people. For you hobophobes, here is a definition:  “(n) a person that is afraid of hobos. (adj.)hobophobic – to be afraid of hobos.

John is a really big hobophobe. Anytime he sees a homeless person walking on the street, he freaks out.”

Both at Denny’s and Wendy’s you can hang out “all day” after ordering food. The manager at Denny’s in Langhorne told us we cannot hang out “all day” just on weekends, when it gets crowded, and was apologetic. Unlike the manager at the Langhorne Burger King, who chased my friend out because her looks may offend the yuppie clientele, the staff at Denny’s ask how my friend is doing, and are concerned about her.

At Wendy’s in Levittown, we became a fixture. One night when we left about an hour before closing time, an employee remarked “are you leaving already?”

One guy, Mike, I believe a manager or the manager at Wendy’s, realized our situation. He said that he doesn’t have a problem with us hanging out at this Wendy’s and told us that we clean up after ourselves, are quiet and don’t bother anybody — that my friend does her puzzle books and I’m on my laptop. He also related a story about a Burger King where he used to work: Someone invited a homeless guy out of the cold and bought him a meal. A customer freaked out and exclaimed that a homeless person was in the restaurant and beseeched them to call the police. To this Mike  said “so?”  We’ve had some friendly conversations with Mike.

Not all homeless people are drunken bums. Some are and have caused problems in the community. Of the alcoholics, some had that problem before they became homeless, others use booze as an escape from their problem after becoming homeless. Druggies often end up homeless after they get kicked out of a recovery house, which is often the case in lower Bucks County, PA.

I think it is legitimate to profile druggies. Homeless people, if they are responsible, which many are, have their food and clothing needs met, thanks to gracious people who help them, and to the taxpayers for food stamps. Druggies steal, panhandle and wheedle money out of people so they can support their expensive addiction.

Unlike the average homeless person, druggies are a risk for problems, and if identified as such should be kept out of places.  What’s interesting about the Bristol Burger King is that, on one occasion it looked like someone was dealing drugs with one of the employees.

Rene and her toady argue the potential of homeless people panhandling and disrupting other customers. There were occasions where people disturbed us and other customers:

  • An “adult” brought in a little boy who bounced a basketball inside. He was so wild that I was afraid the ball might crash into my laptop. Yet nothing was said about that.
  • Some teenagers/young “adults” where paying their “music” , talking loud and blocked people’s way as they were dancing all over the place. They also got a pass.

The question is, how do people in charge of these establishments determine who is homeless and that they are a potential problem?  Hummmmmmm…

The Bristol Burger King has changed since I used to frequent it about a decade ago. Especially on weekends, it has taken on a gangsta rap atmosphere. The floor manager, whom a homeless person said was fired because she gave homeless people food in exchange for work, told me that loud altercations would break out and people threatened to damage cars, etc.

Yet a homeless person is banned because she might panhandle!

The Bristol Burger King has become a den for lowlifes. Rene seems to be OK with that, evidently because like her, they are the quintessential Noble Savage. To borrow a phrase from Tom Wolf, they  “like pimps, are a member of a spurious aristocracy,” as is that general manager.

Many homeless people come to the public library in Levittown PA and read books, use the computers to look for jobs and educate themselves. Some of them, as a result of their dogged search, have landed jobs and have moved on up. I’ve heard homeless people discussing Shakespeare and have joined them in other intelligent conversations.

Like Selma Alabama before civil rights, the white cracker establishment ruled tyrannically over blacks. As Anne Coulter pointed out in Mugged, most of the folks running the show during Jim Crow were descendants of the barbarian Celts. Today in places such as the Bristol Burger King, barbarians are running the show. The only difference is the color of the tyrants.

But, as writers and protesters shamed America and brought about positive change, I will do the same for the homeless.

We shall overcome!

Reach Out and Touch Someone

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.

James 2:1-4
“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.” 

Long Haired Freaky People Need Not Apply

“And the sign says, ‘Long-haired freaky people need not apply.’  “So I tucked all my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.  He said ‘You look like a fine, upstanding young man – I think you’ll do.’  “So I took off my hat and said, ‘Imagine that! Huh… me, working for you!’

Woah-oh-oh.

-Lyrics from Five Man Electrical Band’s Signs

Throughout history, people have been pre judged by their appearances, as in the example of Five Man Electrical Band song.  Today, there is a stereotypical perception of the homeless.

In her column in The Daily Californian, Hailey Yook writes about the negative reactions people have to the homeless they see everyday on the Berkeley University campus.  She related that most people who pass near them see them as nothing.  Ms. Yook relates an occasion where, in an area of campus where people hang out, where there is activism and other social activities, on a day when there was a lot of activity, a woman with a shopping cart with her belongings, who looked homeless, sat down on a bench in the midst of all this activity.  http://www.dailycal.org/2014/03/03/attitudes-toward-homeless-affect-us/

Almost every student that she sat near got up and walked away, as if she were a leper.  Even on a college campus, where people are supposed to be there to learn about the world and open their minds, there was ignorance about the homeless.  Ms. Yook explains that this is a common phobia based on presumptions — that the homeless are beggars, are lazy, are addicts, crazy, violent, etc.  People have mental images of homeless people going berserk.

This was the case at a Burger King in Bristol, PA when the general manager banned a homeless friend of mine from the fast food restaurant.  The reason?  She doesn’t want homeless people there because they panhandle.  In her few visits to this Burger King, she never panhandled.  Nor has she anywhere else.

At another Burger King in the area the general manager, near the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA, threw my friend out arbitrarily.  Without discussion, he threatened to call the police.  My friend has lung cancer, is very thin and looks sickly but doesn’t dress like the stereotypical bum.  Evidently, he didn’t like her looks and booted her, even though severe weather threatened the area.

At the Veteran’s Memorial by the Levittown Public Library, a guard at the nearby municipal building occasionally finds an excuse to roust the homeless who hang out there.  He said that there are people who are uncomfortable about coming up to the monument when they are there.

That’s their problem.

One problem the homeless have is being accepted by the rest of society.  They don’t like being thought of as being on the fringe of society.

In lower Bucks County, PA, there are people in the community who reach out and get to know the local homeless.  There is a bus that takes the homeless to community meals, where the hosts reach out and get to know their quests, often forming relationships with them.

There was a volunteer from a local faith based organization who dedicated herself to ministering to the homeless who frequent the Levittown Library and surrounding areas (she moved but someone will take her place).  She helps setup events, such as picnics for the local homeless.  She considers them her friends and is staying in contact on Facebook.

No matter what our station in life, God made us all.

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

— Proverbs 14:31.

We are all equal in the site of God:  “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”

— James 2:1-4

Another problem the homeless have is the obvious:  they don’t have a home.  To join with the homeless to help them resolve that problem, Gimmee Shelter was created.  http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529