Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lessons learned from the homeless - Part 2

Working with the homeless is filled with a range of emotions that include hope, discouragement, frustration, anger, and more hope. It can be like a roller coaster sometimes.

In a world where one can buy a 59 cent beer at the local liquor store, $2 for one that will sedate an elephant, or call the "pizza man" and get any drug delivered right to your tent, the surroundings of the streets present many challenges and temptations for the homeless. Match that with a desperateness that is always looking for a next meal, and you've got a recipe for a crazy cycle of wanting to "break out" and "trapped" all in one.

I recently learned of the desperateness that leads one to the "Hamburger Drop". That's when a homeless person buys a cheap hamburger at McDonald's, takes a bit out of it, wraps it back up, places it in a garbage can downtown, then proceeds to pull it out and take a bite in front of the crowd passing by. They know that there will always be someone who will stop them, tell them not to eat it, and give them some money instead. Those are sad, but true stories of desperate lives on the streets.

Some of the best things I've learned about helping the homeless are the great programs available to them, like the San Diego Rescue Mission. They have a one-year, live-in program designed to take someone off the streets and mainstream them back into society. Program graduates will be clean and sober, moved into transitional, sober living housing, and helped with finding jobs. Most importantly, they'll find out about a God who loves them, died for them, forgives them, and has great plans for them!

Our job simply is to be the ones who point them to the God that loves them. With much frustration, I've learned that the homeless have to be ready to change. They usually have to get "sick and tired of being sick and tired." But through consistent love, and always pointing them toward help, LIVES DO CHANGE!

So...don't give up on loving them and pointing them in the right direction. When they are ready, they'll know where to go because you will have consistently shown them God's unconditional love. Maybe it will be the Rescue Mission, or some other great program like it. I'll tell you one thing...when you see them change from where they were...most days being terrible...to where they are after graduating from Rescue Missions...saved, and most days being  great...you'll know it was all worth the roller coaster!

Have fun loving with God's unconditional love!

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