We face our first (of likely many for the season) severe storm alerts tonight in our city. The wind has become ugly all afternoon with blowing dust to match. No, it’s not a Haboob, but I didn’t notice anyone taking a picnic to the park today. It’s ugly. And thunderstorms are forming in the area now.
The gutter is likely to flood tonight, so…
Where do the homeless go when the weather gets bad? There are some options for them in our city, but none involve the church (unless something has changed since I last heard of it). Tent City (“Grace Campus”, these days) has a barn that will hold street drifters as an emergency shelter, but that is the only option I have heard of in recent times, and I am unclear if they will take people in for spring thunderstorms. But I am out of the loop – what with keeping foster kids and all.
So… where does a street-homeless person go if the thunder and rain and hail come down in the night? That is a good question.
I often look around for such impromptu shelters when I am out and about. There are a few abandoned buildings, carports, and businesses that are closed for the night which have a corner or overhang someone could huddle in if they really had to. There are bridges and overpasses, but those stand to flood underneath when the storm rages, so they are probably not wise. But then most of the other options I just suggested involve breaking a law or trespassing/loitering where that is not allowed.
A guy might be able to walk the aisles of a Wal-mart or some other all-night retail store. He might even get a bit of sympathy from management for the duration of the storm, but there is no guarantee.
But what about God’s Shepherds? Where are they??? What does a shepherd do? Luke 15:3-7 anyone???
I know full well that not every shepherd of the sheep can or should be out searching for the homeless in the storm. Some shepherds are too old and brittle for that job. Some already have their hands full down at the cancer ward. Some are tending to yet other needs, and that is okay, up to a point.
But how many shepherds serve on teams that hold meetings weekly or monthly? Can they not coordinate? And don’t count on the Premier Homeless Church to do this; they started running all their flock off the property at night several years ago and have worked hard to shape public perception of that as okay. So, a shepherd of most any church in town might be tempted to think this task is covered already by other pastors, but that is not the same as leaving 99 on a hill to go after the lost one, now is it? It’s your job to look into it.
I hope you will. Tonight is one of those nights when God’s shepherds go looking.