Homeless People Are Not Fixable

In my last post, I wrote about foster care for children.  I wrote about my love for them and the limitations I share that love under.  I wish I could order the world through them the way I see fit.  I wish I could fix them.

When you see a baby with cigarette burns, you want to fix that.  But immediately you run into complexities.  Most of them beyond your control.  In my case, I am a mere foster parent.  What can I do?  What needs to be done?

A sheriff needs to arrest the person who did it and take them to jail.  But before that, an ambulance driver needs to rush the child to the emergency room.  You can see the “fix” bifurcating right at the start.  There is the legal side of this fix and the medical.  Cops, jailers, lawyers, and judges on one side with doctors, nurses, medical technicians on the other.  Then the social workers and foster agencies step in.  Paper trails are generated.  Administrators loom behind all of these.  And I have not yet got to the part where I, as a foster parent, come in.  Nor have I said anything about anyone addressing spiritual matters, which surely are at the root of this problem to begin with, no?  (Tower of Babel anyone???)

But when you meet a child in such a need, one of the things you MIGHT feel convicted/inspired to do in response is get licensed as a foster parent and take such children into your healing home to love them with all you’ve got for the little bit of their life you are allotted.  And how many of those precious babies go through all that (including your loving home) and wind up harming the babies they also then bring into the world?

Ohhhh… but we sure spare no expense it seems in electing officials and judges.  We spend millions on the sheriff’s department, the court, the hospital, the doctors and on and on and on…  (Building our Tower)  But is “the problem” getting better over time?  Or worse?

I live in Lubbock, Texas.  The “most conservative county” in the U.S. per capita is in our congressional district.  Lubbock is very much a part of that culture.  We are as “Christian” and conservative as it gets here.  (Btw, I consider myself “Christian and conservative too!)  And yet we have a long history of quietly leading the nation in STD’s and unwed-teen pregnancies, and we don’t lag far behind in child abuse cases.  Lubbock it not a big city, nor is it located in a highly populated region.  So, we are almost a secret to begin with, but we sure don’t put these statistics in our visitor brochures!

Lubbock is not situated along any main railways.  We have an “interstate highway” but if you look carefully at a map and find I-27 on it, you will notice it does not cross any state lines!  In fact, it is the shortest “interstate highway” of them all!  And I point that out, because highways and railways tend to bring homeless populations with them.  Amarillo, 120 miles up our “interstate”, has major railways and sits on I-40 (the famed/fabled Route 66 of old).  They have a massive homeless population, ours is small by comparison.

And like the STD’s, Lubbock has been able to live in denial of the homeless we have attracted.  Most of them are actually from here.  But the last decade that population has grown to levels that must be dealt with.  But homeless people are not fixable!  And we have proven capable of great denial!

And back when I started getting involved in homeless ministry in this town (the Fall of 2009), I found articles in the newspaper covering Lubbock’s response to the homeless.  (I know, you are thinking that is not “denial”, but when the media makes it sound like Lubbock has the mess you have been seeing out your car window under control, then yes… that is denial.  It is what some of us around here call “fake news”.)  I recall reading the words of the pastor from a leading ministry that serves the homeless where he was quoted telling Lubbock not to give money to beggars.  (Now, how do you think a message like that gets received in a town like this?)  The pastor pointed out that the money would almost definitely be misused if you do that and so you should give it to him instead.  He knew how to fix the problem.

Well, in almost a decade since then, that ministry has grown to over a million dollar budget while we have added hundreds of new people to the street homeless population.  In fact, in the last 8 – 10 years, Lubbock has managed to get at least 5 major homeless ministries with several smaller ones chugging along behind.  All while promoting a denial of the problem in our public consciousness.

I chose a prophetic path in this ministry over the course of time.  I come from a church tradition that barely acknowledges prophecy at all, and certainly has no idea what to do with a prophetic ministry in its midst now.  I see that all this fix we do on the one hand is not “working” and all the denial of the problem on the other hand is only helping it all get worse.  (The Tower of Lubbock makes a name for ourselves, but not God.)  I came to this unlikely path largely because of when I spent a night out by the Mahon Library one very cool October night in 2009, just before the city kicked all the homeless off that property to force them into hiding.  I specifically remember laying there on the cold pavement looking into the window of the library where, under dim security lights, I could see hundreds of thousands of books being kept warm and dry.  BOOKS!  Books – warm and dry while PEOPLE slept outside shivering, and I thought: How do the values of a “Christian” town get us to THIS point?  And I set out to call the bluff on every statement, action, inaction and unspoken message I could find that supported this mess.

Do I think homeless people cannot be fixed at all?

Yeah.  Pretty much.  But they can be loved.  I am sure Jesus loves them.  And I am sure that IF there is a fix for the problem, it will be God Almighty who supplies it – not us… Not legislation, not taxes, not the sheriff, and definitely not denial.  But I also think that IF there is a fix for the problem, it LIKELY will be God working THROUGH his church.  And the one thing church brings that no one else does or can is WORSHIP – IMAGE BEARING WORSHIP – of God/to God.  This, instead of idolatry, will be the WAY through which the world is redeemed.  And you can’t have that if you claim to be the people of God but live in denial and/or employ every other complex attempt at fixing the problem through your own will or abilities.

And so, when you meet a homeless person in need, one of the things you MIGHT feel convicted/inspired to do in response is open your church house door (or even the door to that empty guest bedroom in your fine Lubbock home) and take such person into your healing home to love them with all you’ve got for the little bit of their life you are allotted.  And how many of those precious souls go through all that denial, cold, and neglect  without meeting Jesus?  Think you might be able to affect a change if you picked up a cross and followed Jesus???

 

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. T. F. Thompson · March 15

    It is unfortunate, but here really is no ‘fixing’ it. How does one undo the evil in Man’s heart when God gives man free will? In the meanwhile of the ultimate ‘fix’ of Christ’s return, we have the love of God’s children to man, to kids. None of this is perfect while most of it sad. Looking to Christ we have hope. This is not much for a child who has been damaged. We have money, programs, education, but then again: this is all matters of the heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · March 15

      Tom, I knew this would get your response. I knew it because I know how you care for the people who normally are not cared for. I also know, whether you agree with my details or not, that you want to see the bluff called on this mess. We Christians talk a good talk, but are lousy at the walk.

      I actually don’t think even our talk is up to snuff.

      I want to tinker with your comment a bit here. You really might not agree with me (I know you can handle that), but I want to be CLEAR about my position. Whether you or others disagree, I don’t want it to be unclear.

      You said:

      In the meanwhile of the ultimate ‘fix’ of Christ’s return…

      I am sure, as it seem you are, that “the ultimate ‘fix'” will be “Chris’s return” alright, but I sense, through many years of study and experience, that such phraseology lends itself to “Christian” people sitting on their hands in the meantime. My position would SEEM to be a bit closer to the social justice/social gospel path than the waiting for the rapture path. I want to distinguish that.

      You also said:

      Looking to Christ we have hope. AND We have money, programs, education, but then again: this is all matters of the heart.

      Yes, your point is a good one, if I get you right. But I just want it very clear here, because this is one of those places where the message I bring … if – IF – if it gets past the contempt of pastors and pew warmers alike, then gets muddied so easily. Because as a church, we are looking to Christ, almost by definition, but then throwing our money, programs, and education at the problem(s) under that guise just like all the secular agencies really. The only difference then is that we decorate it with prayer and a few other “Christian” culture trappings.

      I would like to go back to your statement “Looking to Christ” and point out that we could/should be looking for Christ IN the faces of the homeless themselves. Jesus tells us that IS him, but we see a problem when we look there instead of him. And I am not denying there is a problem there, but I am saying we deny seeing HIM there and see ONLY a PROBLEM instead. A problem we then turn to idols to fix – MONEY, PROGRAMS (of our own making) and EDUCATION(Gnosticism was a heresy in the early church that persists in some quarters even today). We think we have somehow baptized these idols so that they can now serve Jesus, but the secular world is running to them for all they are worth already, and the church has the chance to do something entirely different – entirely churchy, in fact. I would even say the church has the chance to do what the church is designed to do and then trust in that! And that is WORSHIP – IMAGE BEARING WORSHIP… which seems sooooooo counterintuitive to the secular world around us, but which is our very raison d’tre.

      Liked by 1 person

      • T. F. Thompson · March 15

        Actually, what I am saying is that they will see CHRIST if we are there standing in gap. That is what we are supposed to do until HIS return. We are imperfect, yes, but so? We are to do it anyway in faith. There is no middle ground here. I hear you loud and clear, and trust me: WE AGREE 100% And it wouldn’t matter if we don’t agree. We are going to speak our mind for the cause of those who are down trodden. Afterward, we should be there and then, our words don’t mean a thing for at that point, we have performed the living truth. The truth is Christ.

        Like

      • T. F. Thompson · March 15

        Rats I hate it when I write out a long reply, send it and it doesn’t work. RATS again. Let me just say that we are in 100% agreement and even if we weren’t the actions we take stands as testimony to those who are downtrodden. the Christ they see should be US with them until HIS return. Yes, words don’t mean a thing. Programs don’t either nor money, nor good writing. Our presence with them means as much as Christ’s presence with us. We are to stand in their gap for them just as Christ stands in gap for us. There is no middle ground. Either we put up or shut up. Sorry, but I can’t see it any other way.

        Like

  2. Larry Who · March 15

    “…But I also think that IF there is a fix for the problem, it LIKELY will be God working THROUGH his church…”

    From Genesis to Revelation, God places the responsibility of caring for the poor on the believers, which is His Church. Our problem as believers is that we’d rather shirk that responsibility, keep our money for ourselves, build bigger churches which are used only for a couple of services a week, and then we think we’re serving Christ with a whole heart. Beware! The Judgment Seat of Christ awaits all of us at some time in the near future. We’ll not be able to hide on that day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Lewis · March 15

    One thing about social justice and social programs…it’s really always more abiut programs than justice. It’s more about money and power than justice. Look at our drug war/drug laws. You do realize that people in the law enforcement/incarceration industry have much to gain from keeping the war on drugs going in perpetuity. The war that never ends. Billions spent, drug and addiction problem spiraling up and not down, and large portions of well paid government employees/civil servants profiting from the status quo.

    Education – same thing. Million dollar coaches and university presidents, very highly paid faculty and professors, million of students in debt up to their ears which they can never get out of. Kids convinced to rake out 60, 80, $100,000 in student loans for degrees they can’t use, to get jobs that ultimately pay less than the debt they accrue…now they arecpaying taxes in top if debt, who really benefits? All those who work in the education industry. Non profit my rear end, millionaires being made.

    This homeless preacher – kick me out, hide em, collect the money, declare it a success, keep me freezing. Again, who is benefitting?? Apparently not the homeless.

    The kids in foster care. I am mostly blissfully ignorant. And I don’t believe social workers find themselves at the top of the pay grades. But many are…as you say, law enforcement, doctors, judges, etc…

    And if course, we can’t teach our kids to pray, love God, go to church, or the name of Jesus. In God we trust is on the currency’s, and it’s true enough, we just need to understand the God we trust IS that currency.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · March 15

      Yes. Thanx John. You said it good.

      I looked at my own post and saw the Tower of Babel all through it. So I went back and put in some parenthetical statements to highlight it.) There is a lot there in the first 11 chapters of the Bible that SEEM irrelevant to many of us today. I mean, when I was a kid growing up in a home of faith that attended church, I learned from both my parents and from Sunday school that the Tower of Babel explains where all the languages come from. This is why I speak English and my neighbors speak Spanish and Jesus spoke Aramaic and Paul wrote in Greek … etc… (And I will allow that is there to be had, but) that is a very reductionist view of Genesis 1- 11. Thanks to scholars like R Horsley and N.T. Wright, we can see EMPIRE there and everywhere. And we can see the church colluding with empire too, sadly.

      I am feeling the desire to chase that line of thought further in the next post. Not that I haven’t before, but it seems sooooo ripe for it again. But the fact that you point it out here so clearly, frees me up to go the other direction I really WANT to go with it. I am glad that Babel angle, that follow the money angle, is clarified. But I really WANT to explore IMAGE BEARING theology and WORSHIP theology.

      (I know that putting that word “theology” on it is disturbing to some readers who distrust everything “intellectual”. First off, I don’t view intellect as equal to Gnosticism – though there is a lot of overlap to be sure – and secondly I would point out that not all “theology” is a matter of intellect – though there is a lot of overlap to be sure. Actually… theology used to be the domain of prayer warriors.)

      With that caveat out of the way, I really think that bearing God’s image into the world and the image of God’s worship back to God is WHAT THE CHURCH IS ALL ABOUT on the one hand and yet for all the world LOOKS – especially to skeptics and atheists – like NOTHING. And sadly that skeptic/atheist viewpoint has quietly crept in to the church making for what one recent blogger called “comfortable comma” (what Pink Floyd long ago called Comfortably Numb, btw). HOW CAN BEARING THE IMAGE OF GOD change things??? The prophet Isaiah tells us that at the mere IMAGE of God, the mountains bow down, the valleys stand at attention, the crooked places straighten out! Wow! St Paul says that creation groans in birth pangs waiting for the REVELATION of the Sons of God (those who bear his IMAGE!).

      If the church doesn’t see this… WHO WILL? If the church doesn’t do this… WHO WILL? And Jesus said on this Rock he will build his church and the gates of hell will not resist it! So… CHURCH… you really haven’t got a choice – for all the free will you wanna hide behind, you really are the answer to the worlds problems and God is the only fix and your worship and image bearing is really the only thing you have to work out your salvation in fear and trembling with!

      I think I will bark more up that tree now…

      Thanx so much for visiting.

      Bless you…

      X

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s