(Posted April 28th 2016 @ 11:30 AM by: Melody Reever)
I first became involved in ministering to the homeless more than twenty years ago. My friend, Shelly Moore, and I decided we wanted our children to realize how very blessed they were. The first time we went was heart wrenching and a real eye opener! We had made sack lunches, including homemade cookies, to pass out to the homeless. As we walked down the lonely, dark, backstreets in the southern part of downtown Dallas, I realized that, but for the grace of God, this homeless person could be me. Not only did our children gain a new appreciation for all the wonderful things they had, including plenty of food, we too were awed and humbled to realize how “rich” we really were (are!).
As time passed, many of the homeless people in downtown Dallas began to recognize my van and would wave at me, hoping I had something for them. My daughters would often help me pass out blankets and food from our van windows as we drove around, looking for those in need.
People become homeless for a variety of reasons: poverty, domestic violence, mental illness, and addictions. A couple of special homeless groups are those with re-entry problems: ex-cons and discharged military. Others are living on the streets to avoid arrest for past criminal activity and warrants. It is reported that over 500,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in the United States.
The homeless have many needs, including food, healthcare, warm clothing, and shelter. Many times their life situations and choices have placed them beyond the basic essentials of life.
For the past several years, our church has ministered to the homeless. We have an annual coat and blanket drive to help provide winter wear, and a summer drive that includes a wide variety of needed items, including water and cotton socks. Last summer, we filled shopping bags that were donated by a local retailer. We included many essentials along with a few “extras” to show we really care about them! These bags were distributed to the residents of “Tent City,” an impromptu “neighborhood” under the interstate in downtown Dallas. We’ve ministered one-on-one to the homeless by listening to their stories and praying with them. Our youth group has served sandwiches, chips, and water to the homeless and worked in the kitchen of a homeless shelter.
If you feel compelled of the Holy Ghost to venture into this ministry, begin by researching the homeless situation in your community. Many large cities have shelters and soup kitchens or soup wagons that need volunteers. If your city is like Dallas, Texas, and you have many people who are literally living on the sidewalks or in tents, you can take a small group along to pass out food and other needed items.
Here are some words of caution:
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” He loves the homeless!