Christians Should Be Motivated to Minister to Homeless People

We minister from a place of brokenness, knowing it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to a lasting hope for restoration and recovery.

No matter where you live, there are men and women longing to set their head on a bed they can call their own. We often think of homelessness as an inner-city problem. We see panhandlers on the street corner or pass a young lady and her dog sitting on a blanket. That’s the image of homelessness fixed in our minds. But in most towns, homelessness looks very different.

 

This past January, with the temperature so cold my van’s windows could barely defrost, I dropped off six men at McDonald’s so they could spend the day there, protected from the frigid cold.

No matter where you live, there are men and women longing to set their head on a bed they can call their own. We often think of homelessness as an inner-city problem. We see panhandlers on the street corner or pass a young lady and her dog sitting on a blanket. That’s the image of homelessness fixed in our minds.

But in most towns, homelessness looks very different. It’s the single mom who’s unable to put a deposit down on an apartment because of bad credit. It’s the young man who has been released from jail but can’t get a job. It’s the addict or the person with mental health issues who’s been asked to leave their family home again and again. Many sleep in their cars, some will couch-surf for as long as they can, and still others will find a piece of land where they can pitch a tent or roll out a sleeping bag.

Homelessness is always a crisis. But merciful, compassionate, and loving Christians can’t only and always walk the other way. We have a compelling motivation to respond.

Four Principles in Caring for the Homeless

But it’s not always obvious what the best response is. Our church began to discuss this in recent years. In fact, one of our elders serves as Executive Director of a local transitional home for at-risk women. He is all too aware of the needs in our region, and he led our church to respond.

We did so, with these four considerations in mind.

1. Every homeless person is in crisis.

We were determined not to see homelessness as a problem to be fixed but rather to see the individual as a person in crisis. We must ensure that our efforts to respond do not exacerbate the crisis. It’s true that helping can hurt.

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