Happy New Year!
2019 Is The Year Of The Voice
I struggled to get off the jam-packed freeway full of road rage and weary drivers that found themselves parked instead of moving forward. Here it was 6:45 p.m. and I needed to get my life-sustaining heart meds before 7:00 because the pharmacy closed its steel doors at the strike of the 7:00 hour and would be closed for the next two days.
Once I got off the freeway, there was no way possible to maneuver over four lanes in enough time to turn into the pharmacy’s parking lot so I was forced to travel another bumper-to-bumper half-mile to perform a U-turn. Amazingly, the light connected with my anxiety and turned green, rushing me into the parking lot with just a few minutes spare to run in and get my prescriptions.
As I leaped out of my car, I was stopped, even bullied and challenged by an unknown homeless man who was adamant that I give him a couple of bucks.
You see, in my city, the City of Roseville, I refuse to put up with panhandling. It’s a distraction. It initiates fear and crime and there’s ABSOLUTELY NO NEED FOR IT!
I have even been known to stop in the middle of an intersection to get them to move on. It’s not that I lack compassion; after all, I run a homeless organization, but it’s just that we have many resources available and their panhandling is an excuse and becomes an eyesore.
I work hard to help guide and direct them to get tapped into alternative resources and get off the streets.
It’s hard for reality to prevail over guilt!
When encountering panhandlers, I instinctively stop what I’m doing and give them the lowdown of who I am, how and why I run an organization catered specifically to helping love on the homeless, and if they are hungry, I will buy them food. I then pray over them, give them my business card, and tell them that if I come back in the next hour and still see them panhandling, I will have them arrested.
You might find that harsh given my heart pours out the love of Jesus into these individuals daily, but if the services we offer don’t suffice, then it’s obvious they’re only looking for a quick fix related to drugs and/or alcohol.
This man was the FIRST AND ONLY HOMELESS individual who didn’t pack up and leave. Sadly, he felt his fear tactics and threats to kill would influence me otherwise.
I challenged him with his futile threats to go ahead (not the brightest move admittedly), but I’m ready to meet my savior, Jesus Christ, at any time so it didn’t really matter.
Blameless and Forever Free Ministries is praying that 2019 initiates a new attitude and compassion for stabilization regarding our homeless epidemic.
Being the founder of Blameless, I want to be very honest here. In working to stabilize our homelessness through God’s Great Love, I humbly admit I get frustrated and quite offended when I encounter panhandlers. Giving them “money” is defeating our arduous work! It’s much easier to trigger sympathy than to seek help.
Mental illness is the main precursor of homelessness; addiction, depression, psychosis, abuse, rejection, and abandonment issues are the leading causes, but a lot of homelessness has to do with shame and guilt and the need for guidance to get reestablished back into society.
I don’t like seeing the makeup of my town changing because homelessness is out of control, and everywhere you look they’re either lined up around our stores or in parking lots panhandling or passed out in our parks while depleting our fire and law enforcement resources.
Please don’t encourage Panhandling!
There are many ways you can help and we need a village of people to come together and help combat this Goliath. Please don’t encourage panhandling by offering money; but instead, as you encounter homeless beloveds, acknowledge their presence with eye contact and a warm smile and maybe even say “good morning.” Being affirmed builds worth and a sense of belonging.
You could offer to buy them a sandwich or burger along with a milk. A used bike and metal cart is invaluable.
Another idea is sharing you are tight on money, but could they use laundromat tokens or clothing? Share with them you’ll go home and be right back with a few things and/or buy tokens with laundry detergent.
Better yet, donate to charitable nonprofits like Blameless that deal with homelessness.
Here is a glimpse of one homeless beloved who wanted to go to the laundromat for his birthday…
I personally have found that the most significant treasure was asking if I could pray for them. Praying over an individual offers hope and a sprinkling of love that someone actually acknowledges their presence and took the time to pray for them.
Being the hands and feet of God encourages the homeless that they’re seen and their lives matter. This is the way our communities can come together along with the homeless and help find a remedy to stabilize and tackle this epidemic.
God is going to do mighty things in 2019 and tackling this homelessness is going to be one of them.
Happy New Year! May God be with you, keep you safe and bless your generosity.
Until next time…