Having pastored small churches for a large part of my preaching career I know how frustrating it can be when a needy family comes in the church needing a place to stay. Small churches have a very limited budget when it comes to ministering to the downtrodden in a tangible way. It can cost $100 a night to put up a family in a cheap hotel. And that doesn’t feed them. Yet I wanted to be the hands and feet of Christ in my ministry. In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about how the King will separate the sheep from the goats by how they ministered or did not minister to the hurting. The sheep (the righteous) received their reward while the goats (the unrighteous) received eternal punishment. But how can the church go about helping with their limited financial resources? In 2008 Johnson County Christian Lodge in Cleburne, Texas was established in order to be the ministry facility that every church needed but no one church could afford. The concept was that all of the churches would contribute to support this ministry and thereby be able minister as God expects. The churches can refer the homeless to us to feed and house, and we can do it for about $8.00 per person per night. In the 6+ years we have been open we have served over 1700 individuals with a total of 65,000 bed/nights and 165,000 meals. Is your church among those who support us? If not, please pray about having your church put us in your budget this next year. If you’d like for someone to come and make a presentation about this ministry go the contact section of this website. We’d love to tell you more.
Government is constantly saying, “We’ve got to do something about the homeless problem!” What they’re really saying is, “We’ve got to get rid of these annoying homeless people!” The social services say it’s because of a lack of affordable housing. Law enforcement says they are breaking the vagrancy laws. The Health Department says they are a health code enforcement problem. The churches are saying “We’ve got to help these poor people.” So what does it all boil down to? It’s a people problem. And there are almost as many reasons for homelessness as there are homeless people and trying to rid ourselves of them is like getting rid of fire ants. You can get rid of the tent city but they’ll just go underground for a while and then pop up somewhere else. To fix the problem we have to fix the people. There is no one-size-fits-all solution but there is one common denominator that can lead to the solutions. That common denominator is Christ in the lives of these people. Many will say that they are Christians but only because they know ABOUT Christ but have no personal relationship with Him. That’s like saying you are being cured of an infection because you know ABOUT antibiotics. In both cases the cure must be taken internally to have an effect.
The church, that is the Christ followers, need to step up and address the problem without the government’s help. If the government gets involved they will prevent us from giving the homeless the ONE thing they need most…CHRIST. Without that one ingredient nothing else will work. If you agree then support your local homeless facility with your prayers, your effort and your money. But it must be an organization that presents God’s plan of salvation to every resident.
Have you seen a homeless person in your community? I’ll bet you have and didn’t know it. They are all around us in plain view….but they’re hiding. Have you been to the local Walmart or Target? You’ve seen them. How about the fast-food restaurants? You’ve seen them there as well. Your children are going to school with homeless children and they don’t know it. These people look just like everyone else. Oh, sure, you have a vision of what a homeless person looks like in your head. You think of a dirty person who needs a shave and is carrying a bottle in a bag or pushing a grocery cart down the street. Yes, there are homeless people who look like that but most of them look like you and me. How about some examples:
- Cheryl (all names have been changed) is 23 years old and has 2 boys aged 3 and 6. She has been physically and mentally abused by her spouse and has decided to leave him for her own safety and the safety of the boys. She’s been sleeping in her car for 2 weeks on the Walmart parking lot. It seems safe and there are 24 hour restrooms. But she’s hungry. She came to us for help and we put her up in our family shelter with clean sheets, her own bathroom and 3 meals a day. Her oldest son is enrolled in school and the younger one is in daycare while she looks for work.
- Bob is 35, married with a wife and 3 boys and has been employed in the gas fields. He made good money while working there but the gas fields have closed and he has been forced to sell everything he has to pay his debts. With no car or home he has to spend all his time finding food for his family and a safe place to sleep. His family came to us for help and after only 3 weeks has gotten back on his feet. He has a new job, a new apartment and he and his family are doing well.
These are a couple of the faces of homelessness that have come through our ministry. I’ll bet you’d never recognize them on the street.