Homeless “Ministry” In The News (and not)

I saw two local news items on the TV this morning over coffee that caught my attention.  One is our city’s preparedness to care for the street homeless as the weather is now turning cold and wet.  The statement is made that IF the temperatures plunge below freezing, THEN there will be an emergency shelter open to all comers, AND one group will offer rides to the shelter.  However, for those cold and wet nights when it is not sufficiently freezing to trigger this policy, one of the groups is offering sleeping bags rated for cold weather (with an order of 65 of them placed with a retailer).

No mention is made of the church’s responsibility in this at all.  The Love of Christ in Lubbock, Texas will be handled by the network of 501c3 organizations which will express that love in “emergency shelter” on “freezing nights” and “sleeping bags” for other occasions.  The church of Lubbock can rest assured that the homeless (“the least of these”) are well cared for and Jesus is honored, and thus there is no reason for the church to worry it’s pretty little head.

The other news item that caught my attention was a remembrance piece about the “Haboob” of 2011.  It turns out that yesterday marked the 7th anniversary for that remarkable event.  Most of us remember it well; no doubt it was a high impact event, though no where near as remarkable as the tornado that ripped through Lubbock May 11, 1970.

Like everyone living in Lubbock on October 17, 2011, I have vivid memory of the Haboob too.  But unlike the newscast which brought it all back for our consideration, I recall what it did to Tent City!  I was not on the premises at the time of the Haboob, but when I got there that night, local TV newscasters were covering the story.  The freak storm devastated the tents and wiped out everything some people owned.

What the news did not tell at that time was that Tent City policy in those days stated that to stay on the premises, a resident had to provide their own tent.  Homeless people with no money to refurbish their loss were kicked out that night.  But I watched one man from among the ranks of homeless (and I filmed it too) as he attempted to repair tents by using broken bits and pieces (the scraps) of the wasted tents.  Out of about 20 tents too badly damaged to continue use, he patched together about 5 – all with no tools!

I watched this man desperately and feverishly labor at this task for hours, trying to help his brothers and sisters, as many as he could, to salvage their belongings and continue their stay in Tent City.  But what I did not see, and I am so sad to report (unlike any of the newscasters then or now) is that no church in this town showed up with replacement tents (which were running as low as $30 at Walmart at the time), no tools to share, and no prayers or help to give.

Little guy – 1 / Church – 0

I hate to sound ungrateful for the crumbs that fall from Lubbock’s Table.  There definitely are crumbs there, and they do help!

But I thought this was a “Christian” town.  And when I look at Jesus of the Gospels getting mobbed by poor, broken people at every turn AND the tremendous gift of healing, feeding, and celebrating of those multitudes he demonstrates, I find crumbs of Lubbock’s Table to be a thin parody of the Love of God, AND I find the 501c3 organizations of this town Hurting When Helping by creating a smokescreen for the church to hide behind.

BTW, 65 sleeping bags has the potential to help 65 destitute people to survive a cold night (Thanx so much!), but what about the hundreds of others needing one?  And is that what Jesus would give?  Or would he lay down his whole life to love a lost flock of sheep?

Think about it.


One comment

  1. laceduplutheran · October 23

    Reminds me of a quote by Dom Helder Camara: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

    Liked by 1 person

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