Today in Bucks County, PA, the homeless have been suffering the slings and arrows from intolerant, judgmental people. Because there are some individuals in the homeless community who cause problems, the homeless have been stereotyped.
As a result of hobophobia, shelter for the homeless is scarce, despite there being more vacant property than homeless people in Bucks County. Recently, a former homeless guy told me that a businessman tried to acquire property for the homeless, but as soon as the establishment learned it was for the homeless, they stonewalled the project.
What are we to do?
Under these circumstances, one could develop PMS (poor me syndrome). Or we could refuse to be, in the words of Curly of The Three Stooges, a “victim of soy cum stances.”
In the 19th century, Biddy Mason, who was born a slave, rose up and became and nurse and a successful business woman, earning a small fortune. She used her fame and fortune to help the needy. 16 years after having been freed from slavery, Ms. Mason financed the first African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Los Angeles. We could all learn a lesson from Biddy Mason.
The AME church is one of the places where the homeless in Bucks County are graciously fed. When I first went to a meal at an AME church, I thought it may be afro-centric. But then I learned why the AME was formed. Back then, blacks were rarely allowed to preach, worshippers were segregated by race, and blacks were marginalized. So they started their own church. http://www.stmarkamezionchurch.com/origin/
Recently, a guest preacher remarked in his sermon, tongue in cheek, that he was mistaken in thinking that AME meant “African Methodist Episcopal”. He said it really means “All May Enter”. And they do.
This is the attitude we need to take. We are all creatures made in the image of God, including the homeless. “All may enter” public places such as the Levittown library should be our motto.
God put Christians on earth to do Christ’s work, sacrificing our own selfish desires and serving others, as Jesus did.
At a recent community meal at the St Mark AME Zion Church in Newtown, people at my table remarked how they appreciate the trouble the church goes to give them a good meal and the hospitality, as the hosts intermingle with their guests and show genuine Christian concern. Unlike the Salvation Army, which doesn’t let the homeless into the meals until the dot of 6 p.m., when the meals start, and can’t wait to get rid of them after doing their duty, guests of St Mark drift in an hour before the meal starts, and chat with the hosts as they are setting up.
We all have trials and tribulations in life. They happen for a reason. Instead of being bitter, we should learn from the experience and be gracious to others. In their circumstances, the homeless should not be bitter and be at enmity towards one another but should encourage and edify one another.
I recently had a trial. A friend with lung cancer and I got booted from two motels in two weeks. The Neshaminy Sin, aka the Neshaminy Inn and The Red Roof Inn reflected not only the judgmentalism and intolerance prevalent in Bucks County, but disingenuousness.
The general manager of the Red Roof Inn told me that when I was out, my friend was wandering around, disoriented and unable to find the room. He said he helped her find her way back, and emphasized that he didn’t mind doing that. But when it came time to renew the rent, he had left a message that we could no longer stay there.
When I questioned the manager, he said that my friend belongs in a nursing home, just as I was told at the Neshaminy Sin. After we left, he emailed me and said that he had told me during our conversation that if my friend wanders alone again we can’t stay there. He never said that!
After I experienced the turmoil of moving in the high heat and humidity, we found a much better place, which costs less than the Neshaminy Sin, without the drama of drunks, druggies, prostitutes and other miscreants.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” -2nd Corinthians 4:8-12
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” -Jeremiah 29:11