Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homelessness and Me

My own encounter with homelessnes is mild compared the realities that the currently homeless share.  I have recounted that unpleasant experience for you in a different blog post.*  I want to discuss homelessness in the United States and my proposed solution to it. 

While I hope everyone can glean something personally meaningful from this post, I want to reach out to the Universal Church- Christians.  As with every good finger-pointing, I am a Christian and I am just as much to blame as any other Christian.  Since I am indeed equally to blame, I feel as though the time has come to do something about it.  Before we Christians can fully address homelessness, we need to reflect upon our financial preparedness to answer God's calling to care for the poor.  Ultimately, God calls to be financially prepared to invest in His most precious and priceless asset- the souls of His creation.

We are called to serve God and live our lives as Christ lived His own.  We cannot be wholly free to serve God if we are chained to debt.  Figuratively, debt enslaves us and makes itself our master.   Debt and unnecessary financial obligations hinder us from fully serving God.  Matthew 6:24 NIV reminds us “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."  Christ wants us to be free in every aspect of our lives. John 8:36 NIV tells us that "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed."  Right now, examine your lives.  Are to able to freely respond to God's financial calling on your life?  Or are you slaving away to work off your debt which has made itself your master?

Eventually, I came to a point in my life where I was tired of serving Mammon.  The fight to free myself from this spirit brought me face to face with homelessness.  God was faithful even when my potential homelessness seemed inevitable.  He put me in a rental house.  This house had been for sale but had sat empty for six months.  The owners know me and were aware of my struggle.  God moved on my behalf and filled them with compassion.  They offered me their house to live in and decided to take it off the market.  I have lived in this same house since late 2012. 

Three years in a neighborhood isn't a long time to live somewhere but I believe I see a trend.  On my street alone, five houses are for sale.  They have sat empty for the last two months.  Then, three more empty houses sit without any signs of sale or potential occupation.  When one house is purchased, another is vacated.  This trend continues and my street continues to host multiple empty houses.  Driving around my suburb further validates my suspicions- empty houses on almost every street.  I can only speculate why these houses are empty.

Then I read this: "Homeless Man from Louisville Freezes to Death on the Steps of a Homeless Shelter."  You can read the whole article yourself here.  I see homeless people in my town, at my school, and in my church.  How is this possible?  I'm not so naive to think that every single homeless person wants to live in a house with expenses.**  I will say that young Kenneth Winfield didn't want to freeze to death.  How many more homeless people are going to die this way-exposed to the elements?  How long will we, Christians, allow this to happen?

Faced with homelessness in my community and a crappy housing market, I have decided to juxtapose these two issues against each other.  What if I were able to buy houses and give them to homeless people?  What if other people in my community, or even in my state, were able to do the same thing?  What if other people in other states found out and did the same thing??  We, the people of the United States, could collectively conquer both issues at once. 

This is my solution.  Is it lofy?  A bit.  Can I do it?  I believe I can.  I accept the possibility that my personal impact may be small.  I may only give away one house and to only one person.  If one soul is added to kindgom as a result of my efforts, I believe it's worth it.  I'm hoping that one person will be like the leper that Jesus healed and asked him to tell no one (Mark 1:40-45 NKJV.)  Verse 45 tells us "he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter. . .".  This ministry has reflections of Christ's ministry all over it.  I believe that God was faithful to me to show Himself through me.  Exodus 9:16 NKJV "But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."   

*I haven't written that post yet.  When I do, I will update this one.
**I have met homeless people that would rather couch surf with friends or live out of their cars than be tied down to a house with rules or expenses.