Louis and I have been walking along side a mom and her children as they try to navigate the complex, arduous processes of the government and non-profit systems for ‘helping’ the homeless. (You may have read some of it in my last post… If you missed it, check this out…. Help Even the Unrighteous Poor.) Some time in the near future, I’m going to write at length all the steps, phone calls, emails, etc. that we have made to city council, DSS, RRHA, Commonwealth Catholic Charities – Central Intake, and countless non-profits. Yet, this family is still living in a hotel with no access to a kitchen. She’s currently on unemployment, because her seasonal position ended….a whopping $100. Since she’s on unemployment her food stamps have decreased to $400….to feed a family consisting of herself plus 4 children under the age of 18. And…remember….food stamps doesn’t cover prepared foods. So, without a kitchen food choices are limited. And, her food stamps haven’t lasted the whole month. Thankfully she does have a car to get to a decent grocery store, but gas is running low – as she now has to transport her children to 3 different schools…not to mention all the running around…trips to DSS, RRHA, Central Intake, etc.
Did you know that shelter space for families has a few week waiting list??? Where are all of those families living???? In this families’ case, they could be with a family member – exposing their children to drugs/alcohol addictions and all that comes with it and worse.
Oh yeah…and RRHA has 3-4 bedroom apartments available. Yet, she can’t have one, because she hasn’t taken the required budgeting class, orientation, etc which aren’t scheduled for weeks.
So, she remains in a hotel…funded by who???? Oh….take a guess. Let’s just say – it’s NOT any of those organizations, although she did get a week from DSS.
And today I learn…Mom has a job orientation tomorrow AND got a phone call for a housing opportunity at the same time. Which do you choose when you can’t do both???
Getting the idea????
Church… what are we doing about that??? what CAN we do?
There’s another family who we are doing life with… food stamps cut to $400 for a family of mom and 5 children under the age of 18….3 of which are growing boys. Car is working, but needs new tags. She can’t get to her job.
How could that be?
Did I mention that the schools are closed? Therefore children who usually receive breakfast and lunch are now hungry…really hungry.
Church… what are we doing about that? what CAN we do?
I’m not just talking about handing out free food, although we could use some for both families! (Let me know if you are interested!) I’m talking about relationships…mentoring…loving. When I read the Bible, I don’t read that Jesus said – “oh…go on down to the Food Bank, DSS, RRHA, RBHA or any other organization.” When I read about the Good Samaritan, this is what I read…
Luke 10:25-37 (NLT)
The Most Important Commandment
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Church – who is your neighbor???
Parable of the Good Samaritan
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Let’s take a look at that again…
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
When you look at our current system of taking care of the least of these, does ‘neighbor loving’ look like the way Jesus described it in verses 33 and 34???
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.In modern times, what does compassion look like???
34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.
- How can we treat the wounds of abuse, addiction, family fragmentation, limited education, lack of financial skills, job restrictions?
- What is modern day ‘olive oil and wine”? We can’t just bandage them without the treatment.
- So what does it look like to sooth the wounds in today’s time??
34 (cont) Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
- OK…so then, he carried him to the inn on his donkey. That means he had to walk! They both couldn’t ride on the donkey. Which really means he WALKED BESIDE HIM while guiding the donkey to a place of healing. An inn. Where he took care of the battered and broken.
- What does it look like to WALK ALONG SIDE of a beat up, tired, frustrated, hopeless family who has no place to lay their head?
So, I am left wondering…where was this Samaritan Man going? Where was he walking when he happened along the beat up man?? How could he afford the time to stop what he was doing? We don’t know that part of the story. But, what we do know….is that he stopped. He put his plans on hold. And he walked alongside a beat up, naked man. He gave of his OWN money and he STAYED in the process with him until he could take of himself.
What would that look like today? For a unsuspecting person or family to walk along side a broken, beat-up, naked, hungry, possibly homeless family until they could take care of themselves? Anyone willing to try?
That is your challenge….by choice because it IS a choice…a conscious decision. What choice will you make?
I had a full couple of days of meetings and lunches. Conversations ranged from personal stuff to the Occupy movement and other current events to church divisions over the view of Bible. And one friend said something like… Ya’ know? I can’t be worried about all that. I just need to be obedient to what the Lord asks me to do. I just need to do what the Bible says.
So…it got me thinking, what does the Bible say about Occupy? I did a quick word search in the King James Version on Biblegateway.com…and it led me to the parable that Jesus told about the 10 Minas, in Luke 19. A businessman had to leave and gave each of his 3 servants 10 minas and said
‘Occupy till I come.’ (KJV), which the NLT translates as ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’ and the NIV states ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ (Luke 19:13)
After becoming king, he returns, and this is what he finds…
- One servant had doubled his money….and he was given 10 cities to manage.
- The second servant increased by 50%…and he was given 5 cities to manage.
- Then, there was the third servant, who had basically hid his minas under the mattress. It didn’t even gain interest. The king then took all his minas and gave them to the first.
In vs. 26, Jesus goes on to say
‘…and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
Whether we think that is fair or not, it’s the way Jesus told it. We may think…but at least he didn’t LOSE any of his minas by playing the stock market. But, nope…that is not the way it goes.
So…back to my friend today. She is choosing to invest ALL her minas everyday in any way that she can. In this day when you can’t pause for a second without hearing or reading something about occupy this or that. I am challenged by ‘Occupy till I come.’ Til Jesus returns, I need to put my money, my life, my time, my talents, my gifts, my everything. I pray that the Lord will reveal what I am holding back….what I am putting under the mattress…what I am afraid to put out there.
What about you? What are you holding back? What are you not using fully for the Lord til he returns? Join me in the discussion here, on FB or by tweeting… #occupytilicome.