Loving the Homeless
The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them, he has set the world. - 1 Samuel 2:7-8
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name. - Psalm 74:21
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. - Luke 4:18-19
We at The Resolved Church want to engage the people of San Diego in meaningful ways which reflect and capture God's character and heart for all peoples, no matter how far they seem from Christ or the gospel. We need to pursue healing and reconciliation. Would God's Kingdom come here in San Diego as it is in Heaven?
One of the ways that our church has done this over the years is in ministry to our homeless friends and neighbors here in San Diego. San Diego County has the 4th largest homeless population in the US. There are more people than we think in our church and in our city who suffer from homeless than we know or realize. For instance, a study done by Temple University of 43,000 college students across our country found that 36 percent of college students say they are food insecure. Another 36 percent say they are housing insecure, while 9 percent report being homeless. Homelessness doesn't always look like what we think it should. Many people experience deep shame for their situation and are too scared to ask for help. We must create safe space that fosters humility and vulnerability, where people can be honest about their needs and failures and pursue wholeness together.
Part of the reality of having a ministry that cares for the homeless is that people always ask for things, but that's not so different than anyone else who steps through the doors of our church. What are homeless looking for that's so different from than anyone else? They're looking for a reprieve, a lessening of their burdens, a place to call home - to belong, to be a part of a family, or a safe space to explore God and who He has made them to be.
Our mercy ministry is one of those spaces, but it is not a homeless specific ministry. It is a space to give and receive when you are in plenty or in loss. An abundance of need is quite opposite of an abundance of resources. A person's need can be met by another’s need to give or to serve, but needs are not simply monetary in nature. Our mercy ministry is an opportunity to give and receive mercy, grace, joy, and hope.
We desire to be a generous people in all that we have been given in order to care for the needs of the city and the people of our city holistically - for their whole being! We are called to care for needs, whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Our approach towards homelessness needs to be full of grace and humility, always seeking understanding and empathy. We are always moving towards the goals of restoration, reconciliation, and gospel living.
Practicals: sharing resources and relationships
1. We always have hope. We always have the gospel- take the initiative to share Christ, it doesn’t have to be extensive! Leave the results to God, it’s His role to change hearts.
2. Offering known services- state, county, city, and private. Call 211 San Diego if you think a person desires to change. Call 911 in case of emergency or life-threatening behavior. Ask the Kevin or Laura for more info.
3. We can pray. Prayer is powerful, ask the person or persons to pray out loud and be sure to know and use their name! You might experience spiritual warfare, mental health issues. And cycles of addiction and abuse.
4. Engage in story. Practice availability. Active listening. Seek understanding. Ask a lot of questions, exercise patience and earn the right to speak into their lives with compassionate hearing.
Mercy requires great risk. Any ministry that works closely with homeless populations incurs risks. It will be costly both financially and emotionally! Those involved are bound to experience hurt and disappointment. Mistakes will be made. We will be taken advantage of. There will be times when it seems like we are wasting our time, our money, and our love. Christ calls us to pursue others in spite of self-destructive or sabotaging tendencies. This ministry is messy. People are working through, or stuck in, deep cycles of addiction and abuse.
Our ministries of mercy also lend themselves to new expressions and policies towards both safety and thoughtfulness for everyone who participates in our Sunday and weekly gatherings. It’s our goal to provide a safe environment at our church. We encourage everyone to be vigilant towards the safety of our members, visitors, and especially our children. Our safety team exists to protect and serve the people of our church and receives regular training and coaching to help them do so.
1. Don’t leave children unattended or allow them to go to the bathroom alone.
2. Inform safety team of any concerning behavior (weapons, dangerous animals, drug use, bathroom loitering/bathing etc.).