do we really have thousands of homeless with no help?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by nodak, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. nodak

    nodak
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    Reading one of our closed threads, I came across the sentiment that in the USA we have thousands of homeless and hungry and do nothing while sending money overseas.

    It is certainly a popular concept, especially in social justice churches, but is it true?

    I cannot speak for other areas, but I know what the situation has been where I have lived.

    There are some homeless and probably more hungry. That said, there ARE programs available for them: shelters, food pantries, food stamps, section 8 housing help and public housing, welfare, etc.

    The only ones in our area totally bereft of help are those that are either too mentally ill to accept it (whatever happened to commitment proceedings?) or those that refuse it. This includes but is not limited to addicts and alcoholics not yet ready to make a change.

    We have the working poor, yes, and there are many benefits offered to help them. Some are above the govt. cut off, but in our town they can go to a free health clinic if they cannot get medicaid, a food pantry and a soup kitchen, get free clothing from the Catholics, and even some housing help from one charismatic church.

    And then we have, unfortunately, a subculture that refuses to do work other than mining, the mines long since closed, and so they are truly poor. Of course, they could accept other work but won't.

    So do we truly turn a blind eye to the needy, or do we do right by the truly needy and just have some folks that need to get off their collective duffs?
     
  2. annsni

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    I agree with you mostly. I DO think that there are those who fall between the cracks who maybe make too much to get help but don't make enough to live where they live. Thinking about living around where I live, a studio apartment goes for almost a grand a month - forget if you need a couple of bedrooms because you have kids. That's a LOT of money when you also need to feed and clothe everyone and have transportation because our public transportation stinks. I think that is where churches should come in and many do but I don't think they always do enough.
     
  3. nodak

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    Yes--I agree this is going to be geographic specific.

    You do live in a very high priced real estate area--one my dh hales from quite near.

    That was the reason he chose to live "elsewhere".
     
  4. annsni

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    Yep. It's pretty much impossible to own a home around here without some serious debt - and both parents working. To think of what we could have elsewhere in the country gets very discouraging sometimes but God has us here for a reason so we'll stay.
     
  5. Gina B

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    I don't know the numbers, but I wouldn't write them off. I'll tell you my own little run-in with homelessness and how that went.

    I was living in a split-level home with my three girls. The home-owner and his wife lived upstairs. Wife went out of town, her hubby was an alcoholic, got drunk, had some idiotic fit with me and then went after my kids. I fought him off (getting injured in the process but I did it, those were my babies in danger) grabbed the kids, and ran. With nothing but them.

    Couldn't stay in the DMV shelter where I went because it is only considered domestic violence if
    A. You are related by blood or marriage
    or
    B. You have a s*xual relationship with the person.

    So there I was. Homeless.

    I applied for federal housing, but the list was a two-year wait, although given the situation, they bumped me towards the top, which brought me a lot closer, but every time someone came up who was considered displaced because of domestic violence, I got bumped down more.

    The shelter only allowed us to sleep there, so that left me with three kids at my side during the day. The shelter provided breakfast and dinner, provided you went to chapel and listened to preachers rant over your worthlessness and how if we got off the drugs and boozing, we wouldn't be there. Sometimes the food was not worth getting sick over, so I would go without and find deals where I could feed the kids for very cheap.

    With no hope in sight, I ended up using the savings I had to buy tickets to go stay with a relative.

    I wasn't the only one there. Some were drug addicts using their treatment program. One had the front end of their house smashed in and she had no money for repairs, so she stayed there with her four kids until repairs could be made. Others were in my situation.

    But you know what? Some people have no other options. They don't have a relative to go to. They don't have the money to fix the house when disaster hits.

    Some places have programs that help and some places don't.

    Refusing to help yourself? One shelter wouldn't take me because I refused drug treatment. More and more shelters are making drug treatment a qualification for staying there.

    So if you're not ON drugs, you're forced to say you are and then suffer the consequences of saying so if you have kids, because if you say you're on drugs, they think the kids might be being neglected.

    And I refused to lie and say I used drugs. Cuz I didn't. I had to be randomly tested at work and never failed one. At the shelter they tested my breath, they tested my urine.

    Nothing. Which meant I didn't qualify. So what happens in places where you have to qualify?

    In one state, once they instituted the drug treatment requirements, homeless families started sleeping in cars in the parking lot of Wal-Mart for fear of losing their kids if they went to the shelter and lied and said they were users so they could have a place to stay. Working families laid off, etc, and because they were doing the right thing, they couldn't get into the shelter. I was writing for a company at the time and was asked to do a story on it, which is how I found out a lot of dirty details about how that particular place ran their shelter, and it was HORRIFYING! So much so that once I wrote the story, I refused to hand it over because I decided it wasn't moral to promote them as a Christian place of help and refuge.

    The most wretched story I heard was a man with advance cancer. He ended up sleeping in a set of bushes to stay safe. The shelter wouldn't let him in because he kept vomiting and was too sick to do chores, and chores are required at shelters as far as I know, and many also charge $5 a night. Some can't afford that or are too sick to do the chores...or too sick AND can't afford it.

    There are plenty that need to get off their duffs. There are also plenty that just need a hand up and aren't getting it.

    And there lies the problem. How do you know?

    A very simple way to figure it out would be this:

    1. Investigate the history as much as possible.
    2. Continue doing random drug tests and don't force people into saying their drug addicts and force them into treatment when they aren't drug addicts.
    3. Treat people more humanely. Bashing everyone collectively in a daily sermon only makes them turn away from Christ. I've never felt so far removed from God as they made me feel in that shelter by constantly yelling and berating us and telling us we needed to get right in order to stop our cycle of drug and/or alcohol abuse and poor decision making. The only decision I regret was that I didn't slam the idiot's head into the ground a few extra times, I stopped as soon as I felt he was out of it enough to be of no danger.

    That's your answer. Some deserve it, some don't. I was by no means a minority. In fact I stood up once during chapel to testify (the preacher hadn't shown and they asked if anyone was willing) and was amazed at the various things that brought people to that particular homeless shelter.

    And also amazed by the immediate reaction of people who auto-judge people in that situation. People can be such jerks, and never did I run across more judgmental people in so short a period of time as I did then. And most of it came from Christians. THAT hurt more than most anything I've ever been through.

    What is it with the further right you get in Christianity, the more ignorant, distrustful, and downright judgmental and mean the people get? Am I being unfair? I don't think so. Not all of them, but there's a definite downhill slide on grace and kindness the further on down you go.

    I will tell you I didn't leave without having a really big long discussion with the main "screaming preacher" of that place, where he seemed quite shocked at being told to his face how I felt about him and his assumptions. Then he tried to pull a "well there's always exceptions and you appear to be one of them" line, which I quickly shot down and listed off others there in my situation. Hopefully I got through. He was very attentive at the end.

    But what about others?

    Yeah. Homelessness is a real problem and people really suffer.
    I still would never have stood out there with a sign and begged, although sometimes that is understandable too because often there's nowhere to wash your clothes or when you run from a situation like I did, you don't remember to bring your identification and other stuff you need to get a new job, and you can't work without identification and you can't get that very easily. It takes time, it takes a vehicle, it takes money, it takes envelopes and stamps, and when you have nothing, that is a LOT to come up with.
    Oh, and you need an address. Due to terrorism and all that, you can no longer get a PO Box unless you have a street address.
    But some shelters let you get mail there.
    But if you're not in a shelter because you aren't a drug addict and you're living in your car, then where do you get mail?

    Think about it. It's not just a rare few falling through the cracks. There's a LOT doing that. These places claim it is their priority to help those most in need, which is why the trend is to only accept addicts...because they need more help because of their addictions. That leaves people doing the right thing in the lurch.

    And that ain't right.

    Where IS the church in all this? If they're involved, they're being pretty stupid about it all.
    If they're not involved, why not? Why just give that person a prayer and say "God bless you?"

    This is one thing the LDS church gets right. Like it or not, they're the example we should be following when it comes to this stuff. When the unsaved follow Godly principals more than the Christians, you gotta admit we're pretty screwed up.
     
  6. Thinkingstuff

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    I'm sorry for your struggles Gina. However, I am glad you posted it here because we really need to get away from the stigma we place on homelesness and the people who find themselves in that situation. You are not the only one that has been through similar circumstances. which is why I hate the attitude of certain christians saying if you're living right you won't have these problems. Or that you're not trusting God enough. The fact is there are many women who become divorsed from men and in that act alone the women are destitute maybe with children. Heartbroken for having done everything they can to keep the relationship together. Trusting that God would change the heart of their wayward spouce only to find the spouce is Using God to condone their own actions!!!!
    I'm sick of the high and mighty Christians who say "well only mentally unstable or drug addicts or criminals find themselves in these situation. Certainly God would not allow this to happen to his children." I have disappointing news. God does allow this to happen to his Children and it sickens me when God's other children refuse to sympathize. The fact is it rains on the just and the unjust alike. This is what happens when our churches are closer to country clubs than houses of worship.
     
  7. BobinKy

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    Here are some numbers

    Homelessness in U. S. = 1.58 million

    World homelessness = 100 million

    . . .

    Is Christmas really the time for a critical thread of the homeless?

    ...Bob
     
  8. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Bravo TS, well said.....add to it that this Government will only be extending tiers of Unemployment, not real lengths of it & you can calculate 7-8 Million without any income by years end.

    And Im sick of the high & mighty Christians also. I personally lived through years of poverty & deprivation because my mother refused to be on welfare but she had to take care of a daughter with CP and to have taken anything from the government would have meant giving up rights to my sister & making her a ward of the state....I guess my brother & I would have eaten a little better had my mom did this but she chose to keep a family together & we also chose to stay as a family. Insane Assilum indeed! Id love to put people who say that in similar positions to see what they would say. Remember the haunting words Scrooge kept hearing, his own self pronouncements...."Are there no prisons, Are there no foundling homes.......For shame then & for shame now.
     
    #8 Earth Wind and Fire, Dec 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2010
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

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    It's growing Bob.....it's growing. So are the bonuses of those on Wall Street. An extra 7% I hear. Fraud & deception is profitable in the year of our Lord, 2010.
     
  10. abcgrad94

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    So, how do we help? People say "the church" should help. Problem is, our churches are made up of struggling families too, and we don't have the resources to simply give handouts to everyone who comes asking. Shoot, my dh has to work a full-time job in addition to pastoring. It's not like we Christians are all rolling in the dough and frankly, I get resentful when people call and expect us to give handouts like we're a bank, especially when my dh is working his tail off and so much goes for taxes--which is already being handed out like candy to some who don't work at all. I can't begin to tell how many calls we get from people who want no part of our church, our gospel, or our friendship. They only want a quick fix for their current situation and you never see or hear from them again until the next "crisis."

    How does one know whether a caller is in legitimate need or not? And with limited resources, how do we know WHO to help, knowing that you cannot help everyone?

    This is a very complex problem with no easy answer.
     
  11. Scarlett O.

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    I can think of three people in my experience that I have had this same exact discussion with in person - more that once. I can only speak of their words/deeds and no one else's.

    These three people (in three separate conversations) were highly opposed to things like Samaritan's Purse and other mission-oriented, philanthropic-oriented giving for overseas projects be they Christian or secular. The all had the same reason for their non-support: "too many poor people in our own country - why don't we tend to them".

    In my experience with these three people, I can tell you with 100% certainty that they were doing absolutely nothing for the poor in our country or anyone else for that matter.

    I am of the mindset that taking care of the poor and needy shouldn't have political/geographical roadblocks.
     
  12. Thinkingstuff

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    Homelessness, Poverty, widows, orphans, incarcerated, the sick, the disenfranchized. Should be the conversations of all Christian posts and threads.

     
  13. Earth Wind and Fire

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    You guys have given me an Idea. I'm going to start taking my camera out when I meet with people down on their luck.... Perhaps if people actually see with their own eyes. Ahhhhhhhhh.
     
    #13 Earth Wind and Fire, Dec 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2010
  14. Earth Wind and Fire

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    TS .....

    James 2:14-18

    14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
     
  15. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Oh I can relate to that. Out here, I see many of the smaller churches partnering with the bigger ones for the needs of the poor, so to answer you....they are pooling their talents & resources ie food, clothing....sometimes shelter. We also have a Medical Bus that comes in twice a week to handle those who have lost medical insurance. I drive people who cant get a ride to my county seat to fill out paperwork for food stamps. sometimes some of us men do car repairs to women who dont have the money, sometimes its just collecting & chopping wood for someone needing it for heat, or making a meal for a shut in or whatever.....Christians NEED to do kind things for neighbors.
     
  16. Gina B

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    Why give out handouts to anyone at all? It might be a nice break on occasion, but not really needed.

    I went up to the one preacher who claimed we just needed to get off the drugs and booze and quit wanting hand-outs. He said if anyone was willing to get off their rears and do the right thing, he'd bend over backwards to help. At the time, I had no way to do laundry. I explained the problem and proposed that his wife could get a break and get free work done...I would scrub his house clean in exchange for him letting me wash and dry our one load of laundry.
    Guess what? He refused. Despite being a Christian, he still couldn't get past the fact that I was probably a dangerous freak, simply because of where I was.

    A church I used to attend handled such requests like this: if you're willing to work for it, we're willing to help. One lady was late on her very last car payment. The pastor went to the dealership and they said nope, she couldn't be late. They would repossess it. So the church paid it, but they also set up a repayment plan with her.
    Other people did the same, or did work in exchange.

    A load of laundry? It would have helped keep us clean and restored a bit more dignity.

    How do you know if someone's real? That's a chance. Like I posted before, there are things like histories and drug tests that could be looked at. I understand not taking chances in inviting people into personal homes, especially if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse.

    On the other hand, many people now being displaced in this economy still have work, just not enough to keep them housed. In my work I had federal background checks done, random drug tests, and a local background check. Since I do volunteer stuff at times too, I sometimes have it done twice a year. Once I even had it done four times in four months because some places are required to do their own.

    Other than that, sometimes it's just a chance. Like the guy who runs the shelter out here said, it's angering and frustrated to be used, but they'd rather make a mistake 9 times and be right on the tenth than help nobody.

    That's why I suggested checks be in place. Nobody needs to put themselves in danger and you never know with strangers, so some type of verification system should be in place.

    But a church member, hopefully, is already pretty well known. Limitations are limitations. If the church doesn't have it, they don't have it, plain and simple. That isn't a bad reflection on the church at all. But what about those mega-churches who are building a new gym, building a new coffee shop, spending thousands on wall decorations while they have members with a house that just got robbed, a dad who lost a job and they have to choose between gas in the car to find a new job and groceries if nobody can help? That stuff gets me. Especially when churches go into a million dollars or more in debt to build a more modern facility, then can't help another church family in need.

    And I say church because I'm part of the church. When I needed help during the time I mentioned, I turned to relatives, then to the church, then to others. Just like I'd heard taught in church, that's the order people should go in if they ever need help. My relative said they didn't have extra. The church said they gave to outside organizations so that's where they sent their members.

    So the little bit of help I got, which I was extremely grateful for (a place to sleep at night and occasionally edible food) came from "other." Not relations. Not church.

    Was that right? My personal opinion is no.

    And that's kind of another elephant in the room, I guess. Don't the Pauline epistles talk about everyone helping each other and nobody going without? Kinda like the LDS church does. They have their orchards where those in need can go work and tend them and get food. Canning, basics of life, and self-sufficiency is taught as part of how to live. Talents are utilized for all kinds of need, and reciprocated with the talents the person in need has.

    I guess because I've seen it in action in the LDS church, it's more of a sticking point with me when I see Christians not doing it. They're making us look bad because they're doing it right and we're not.

    And I'm mostly talking about church members not being helped. As for outsiders, I dunno. I think what my old church did was good by having them work for it or when it seemed right (which was more rare) setting up a repayment plan. A dishonest person looking for hand-out will quickly run when offered the chance to actually work and earn it!
     
  17. Salty

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    I want to help the truly needy - but I use caution with the Greedy.

    Gina was needy - thur no fault of her own. And she is right about the LDS - they do help those in need.

    Yesterday in Auburn,NY (25 miles E of Syracuse, an agy was going to help the homeless with some Christmas items. Last year, some 300 showed up - this year they planned for 600. Over 1,000 showed up. Some 400 were turned away. Police had to be called due to unruly action. In addition some folks had driven up to 50 miles one way for the give a way. If you are extremely needy, how could you travel 100 miles round trip ?- up here the gas is $3.20 per gallon.
    I know some of our churches are composed of the needy, but sometimes it can surprise you what can be done. On the other hand, how many of our SBC churches are spending millions on new buildings, when they could stay in the one they have, and then spend much less to start 1 or 2 more local churches. The rest of the $ can be used for the deacons fund.....
     
  18. Thinkingstuff

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    I think that is a great idea. I'm with you the LDS make us look bad. It reminds me of the great capadocians. We need to be more like that.
     
  19. nodak

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    Many have mentioned the lds like they just give out goodies, no questions asked.

    I lived and ministered among them for many years, and was offered a helping hand by them during an economic downturn. (Didn't need help, but was offered.)

    What was offered was "come work in our cannery for a day and we will pay you in x amount of canned food."

    A dear friend with too many mouths to feed did just that. She also helped sort clothing, helped mend, and got clothing for her family.

    In short, lds "charity" is very much workfare.

    But I think some are missing the point, especially Gina.

    My question is this: in your specific geographic area are there thousands that cannot get help?

    In my area the answer is no. There are certainly thousands needy (and we barely have thousands in population anyway.) But there IS help in our specific county for all but a few who refuse what help is offered.

    We also have many who refuse non mining work, even though grandpa was the last person in the family to actually mine before the mines closed down. These folks were destitute even when we had another industry for which they were well qualified for work literally begging for hands.

    So my personal thought is that in those two situations--needy but plenty of available help and needy but refuse to work--there is nothing wrong with either helping the poorer overseas or using money for missions overseas.

    Is help available for your needy? Are the needy in your area refusing either work or the help offered? Or do you live in an area with needy and no help and no available work?
     
  20. Earth Wind and Fire

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    I know in my own town there is allot of needy. Needy because, as Ann said, prices are high & jobs are few( and allot of these people are highly skilled & educated). At an ecumenical pantry, we are deluged & its even worse every day...same with the soup kitchen. Im truly fearful when those on unemployment drop off because we are busting out as it is.
     

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