This is something that I have spent some time thinking about and I don’t think this blog will even be able to fully express the ideas that I have.
A hand-full of months ago, I took it upon myself to get some people together to “Feed the Need”. FtN was my attempt at reaching out to the homeless population in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. I have heard multiple stories about how in need the homeless are and how much responsibility I bear to make sure that they are fed and clothed.
What makes the homeless community my responsibility?
Is it because I’m a human and therefore should have some emotional connection to the “need” of other humans? Or, is it simply because I am a Christian, and Christ said that we should care for the widow and the orphan and so I am eternally responsible for the well being of others?
Maybe the answer to this question is both… There is something inherent about how our hearts are connected and it takes a massive amount pain, naivety or manipulation to hate humanity.
I in fact, do not hate humanity, rather I have a deep love for the men and women who aimlessly roam this big blue playground. Daily my heart is broken for the individuals that I see wearing an outfit for the thirty-seventh straight day. My heart is broken due to the decisions that they have made to end up where they are, I don’t say this in a heartless way, however, in my experience there is a very high percentage of homeless people that have made very specific decisions to end up where they are. There are also very special people who have experienced a rough turn of events that leave them with limited options and homelessness is often one of those options. The unnerving thing is that we can not tell simply by looking, we must hear their stories and be willing to shake dirty hands. Hands that have cooked dope, wiped their backside or masturbated without being washed afterwards.
As I mentioned earlier, I had started what I thought was going to turn into a movement of care and support for homeless individuals in Phoenix. We were a group of kids who wanted to “Feed the Need” that we see everyday. I was disheartened at what I found to be true about this community that I was exploring and giving the time, money and resources of twenty something twenty-somethings.We discovered that the shelters which have been built and designed to benefit those who are homeless were not full!
What?! You mean to tell me that we interacted with hundreds of men and women who appear desperate and are without new clothes, a home or the ability to cook their own dinner and yet they blatantly refuse assistance… Hmmm. That seems somewhat ignorant, right?
And so, the question arises… “how do we know who is on the street because life has turned upside down on them and who can’t free their hands from the pipe/syringe or bottle?” I would say, we know because they are the ones who are taking advantage of the FREE services that are provided for them. C.A.S.S. which stands for Central Arizona Shelter Services offers literally everything that one would need to get back on their feet and begin to provide for themselves or their family. The services available at C.A.S.S. are drug/alcohol treatment, job training, shelter, clothing, food, shower, mail services, psychological therapy, medication, state issued identification, literally everything that someone would need to reestablish themselves as a functional piece to our dysfunctional society. Once I learned that the homeless can eat at least three free meals a day and have all of these services available to them and yet the shelters are not reaching capacity, I stopped feeding a gluttonous stomach.
I could not let myself facilitate their homelessness, no matter how “good” I felt giving a sandwich to someone willing to take it. Shoot, if someone offered me a sandwich, I’d eat it!
Regretfully, I responded incorrectly.
Everything came to a screeching halt! There was no motivation for me to be taken advantage of by men and women that I have experienced time and time again in my life. I have seen more of my fathers syringes, spoons and arm ties than I’d like to remember, I guess the fact that he was a “functional” addict gave him a little more freedom. Nevertheless, there is still a need that is very apparent and worthy of feeding. We must feed this need with much more than a sandwich rather with rich conversation and faithful prayer. My friend Chris Meisner and I discussed some options to this pursuit and how we as humans can be the most effective while not feeding addictions but rather by feeding the void that has led them to addiction in the first place.
Join me in prayer for our city or rally people to pray for your city. There will be a new movement started a movement of love, active, purposeful, love.
I would really love your thoughts on this topic as it is a touchy one and I do not have all of the answers, nor do you so, hopefully together we can appropriately feed the need while being good stewards of time and resources.