Tag Archives: God

Ministering to the Homeless 3

Church defies city prosecutor,

helps homeless

This article is about a church in Long Beach California that was being cited by the city for allowing the homeless to sleep in their doorways, stairwells and on the grounds.   The church refused under a penality of $1000 per day fine.    Find this story at it’s original news source.

Article Launched: 01/29/2007 09:56:55 PM PST

The First Congregational Church, a downtown Long Beach (California) landmark, is defying the city prosecutor’s office by allowing the homeless to sleep on its grounds. The pastor, the Rev. Jerald Stinson, affirmed the church’s stand earlier this month in a sermon that brought standing applause from his socially conscious flock.

“Each person who seeks warmth and safety within those railings is a beloved child of God,” he said. “There is a spark of the divine within each of them. If you do not believe that, if you just write them off as worthless, what do you do with everything Jesus said and did?

Corletto and Michael Bryant, 32, are two of many local homeless people
who have accepted the church’s offer of a place to sleep on its grounds.
(Photo by Kevin Chang / Press-Telegram)

The church has a long record of involvement with helping the homeless in Long Beach. For example, the church’s Drop-In Center opens its doors on Sunday when most other agencies are closed. From 12:30 to 4 p.m., the homeless can eat lunch, talk with each other, and use computers. Founded in 1888, First Congregational has a notable record of social concern. While other churches look to the heavens, however properly, the church at Third and Cedar looks across the street and far beyond.

$1,000 a day?

Each night 15 to 20 people sleep on the steps and grounds of the church. Claiming it has received anonymous complaints, the prosecutor’s office says the practice must stop and has threatened a fine of $1,000 a day if it does not. On Sundays, when many social agencies are closed, the church’s Drop-In Center opens its doors from 12:30 to 4 p.m. so street people can eat lunch, read, see movies, play games and chat with each other and with volunteers. According to the church’s Web site, some homeless use the opportunity to check e-mail and write resumes.

“Many who sleep outside the church struggle with mental illness. One gentle, really nice man who has been here for years is convinced Jesus gave him this church, and he regularly asks me for the keys. Another man thinks he is a king and the church is his castle. There is a woman who believes she is the wife of deceased billionaire Howard Hughes, that he is on his way from Las Vegas to take her home. None of those folks, without a great deal of help, will ever be able to find and keep a place of their own.”

Oldtimer’s comment.  I looked and could not find out what became of this situation except that there have been meetings held at the church between the police and the homeless to help define and mediate the tension between the two forces.   I suspect that the church escaped the fines and continues to allow the homeless to sleep on their grounds.   A bulletin asking for volunteers (printed below) indicates the church has not lost its desire to help the homeless.

Homeless Drop In Center call for volunteers:

“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him: What are you going through?” Simone Well

On Sunday afternoons, the First Congregational Church of of Long Beach operates a Homeless Drop-In Center on their church premises. They open their doors & their hearts to over 300 + homeless brothers & sisters in the Long Beach area.

It enables them to eat, read, rest, & socialize. Many write job applications & resumes in their computer lab. It is also haven for people to go on the day of the week when many agencies which serve the homeless are closed.

This is run entirely by rotating volunteers, so they need our help!

Oftentimes, the homeless are so ostracized, yet they long to interact with the very pedestrians who pass them by on the street. As such, the Drop-In Center mostly serves as a way of connecting people, homeless or otherwise, to create a sense of community.

They need about 15-20 of us to help serve food, set-up, clean-up & mostly reach out to the many homeless who seek shelter there.

This is what ministering to the homeless means

Oldtimer

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Neighbors Vs Good Neighbors

Neighbors Vs Good Neighbors

I’ve always been taught to love my neighbors.   I do – I have no trouble loving anyone I meet whether through our church, within a business, on the street, or even on the net.  

I have to confess that I love some gooder than others (gooder is a good southern word, thank you).  Some are just fine people and they always exhibit good vibes whenever you speak to them.  Good Neighbors are also the first to pony up to help someone out.  Oh, they complain about this or that, but it is good naturedly and accompanied by a winning smile of acceptance.   

This is Veterans Day and I was prompted to think about the Good Neighbors that are in service to our country and particularly those that have already served – our veterans.  

What better neighbor can you have than one that served to keep us free?  What better neighbor can we have that unselfishly put themselves in harms way, under threat of being maimed and possibly death?   These are among the goodest neighbors we can hope to have.

I was impressed today at the little cafeteria where we ate after church, when so many men came in decorated with pins, flags, and name tags that their churches and synagogues had pinned on them so we would know that a good neighbor, a hero, was in our presence.   I managed to shake a few hands and express thanks.  Not enough for what they did for us.  Not nearly enough.

We have some Good Neighbors right here on the net.   Wanderingvet for example.  A homeless veteran that is about as fine a person as you can find even in his present situation.  A working veteran with not enough income or steady jobs to have a roof.   Go read some of his stories as he lives a life on the streets and sleeps on the hillsides.  It is a struggle but he hands out useful advice to other homeless on how to cope, useful advice to other veterans on how to get help.   Maybe one or two can help him.

Another Good Neighbor is VA234 who is a disabled veteran in Ohio that started his blog while he was still homeless.  If you go back far enough and read forward you will get the real story of what it is like to struggle with life from the street side, negotiating toward a real place to live.

Another Good Neighbor is Patriot Guard of North Dakota These fine people show up at military funeral services when some of our not-so-good neighbors threaten protests.  You’ve heard of groups that come out and carry signs demonizing the soldier hero being brought home to rest and doing so at the expense of the grieving family and friends.  The Patriot Guards show up on motorcyles and reverently stand guard to make sure the services are not disturbed.   The North Dakota Patriot Guard is particulary close to my heart because they went to the rescue of a veteran that was about to be put out on the street and his home torn down.   They did far more than that.  You can find it in earlier posts.

Al and Perry, homeless veterans here in Marietta are Good Neighbors.  I’m sorry that I can’t give you a link to them because they still live in the woods.   Pat of Georgia Home Staging, her husband Scott, and several others in our church are especially Good Neighbors for coming to the aid of Al and Perry (and other homeless), taking food and clothing, bringing Al and Perry into our church, breaking bread with them over lunch each Sunday.    They are encouraging Al and Perry to get help through the VA by providing information and assistance to get it done.

The Golden Corral seems to be a Good Neighbor.  They don’t need a link, just go find one if you are a veteran, or have a meal there anyway because they are such Good Neighbors.  (They also helped us out with Habitat meals).  Monday, November 12 is this years “Military Appreciation Day” in which they will give any and all veterans that show up a free meal.   I learned that at another Good Neighbor, Homeless Family BlogI’m not sure he is a veteran, but he has a veteran’s heart and writes a good blog.   I know he was homeless at one time and allowed me to quote him several times.  

There are countless others that I don’t have links for that fall into the Good Neighbor category.  

The title of this article is “Neighbors vs Good Neighbors” so now I’m going to go over to the bad side, the simply neighbor side, to live up to the billing of Oldtimer Speaks Out.  I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself, but I’m having a really hard time doing that with an internet neighbor.  This neighbor is one of the bad ones.  He wrote me today in response to a comment about medical care for our heroes and it nearly ruined my whole day: 

“They’re treating heroes – but why??? I’m (sic) don’t understand.”  

At first I thought it had to be a typo, (as in meaning to say “mistreating heroes”) but then I looked up the guy’s website and found it was a site that is anti-war, anti troops, a hate site.   Now it is not a stretch to see that some would be against the war, as I’m not thrilled about that myself.   But this group and this person is also against our troops.   Against our troops so much they want them to go untreated, to suffer, to even die.   It is this type of bad neighbor that would carry a sign and shout and disrupt a solumn funeral for a war hero while the family grieves nearby.  Thus the reason for such Good Neighbors as the Patriot Guard.

Yes, I do have compassion for this person for his bitterness.  But I’m not allowing him to post on this website.  It is the only one I’ve turned down so far.  He may be a neighbor, but God and I may have a conversation tonight about whether I should love him.   Anyway, I’ve hope that He would agree that I don’t have to let this neighbor over the threshold and enjoy the comforts of my home.  

To the bad neighbor that doesn’t know “why???”, I’ll answer your question anyway.  Because they more than deserve it.  They served their country to protect the hide of someone like yourself, for me, for all the other Good Neighbors that have already served, for your families and mine, to protect and serve – that is why.   Never mind how this war started, never mind whether you think it is unjustified … these patriotic young men and women stepped up to the plate when the plate was empty, stayed at the plate as the strikes went by and stand there now to hit the winning home run.   Ever ready to protect the bitter worthless souls such as yourself  that would deny them the comfort and aid of treatment.   

Another bad neighbor is the retailer’s gross use of Veteran’s Day to post advertizements such as I’ve seen so many of today.  “Come celebrate Veteran’s Day at our car lot”. “At our white sale”, “at our drugstore”.  No other mention of Veterans except as an excuse to shop them.  No flags, no parades, no contributions to veteran’s benefit.  Simply a gross excuse to ride on the back of a day meant to honor our heroes.   

To my Good Neighbors and Good Friends all over this web that are Veterans and Soldiers,  I hope this Veterans Day is a particularly good one for you!  And to the bad neighbors, I propose Grace and Peace to you as well and hope you soon see the light.

 Oldtimer

 

 

 

  

 

Side Issue – Helping Others

This blog is devoted almost exclusively to homeless issues so far, mostly about homeless veterans and/or homeless youth.  Today I want to take a side road to speak out about helping others.

What brought this on was the plight of my son’s mother-in-law when she came too close to having an accident and blew a tire, damaged another  and ruined the rim of two wheels on one side. 

There she sat on the side of the road waiting for me to come to her aid.  She told me that at least 100 cars had passed her already and not one stopped to enquire if she needed help, although she could be seen sitting on her spare from either direction.  You can see from the picture I took as I drove up that there is no safety issue for stopping – the shoulder is quite wide.  

This is a 2 lane road but it is a major cut-through between two parallel highways and is very busy.  The 100 car statement was probably grossly understated.

“And who is my neighbor?”

Now this is the deep south, just out of Atlanta.  This is a predominantly Republican community and  a predominantly Christian one as well.  There is one mosque among hundreds of Christan churches.  There are also a smattering of Jewish Temples too, but perhaps 85 percent of the area population are professing Christians.   I’m not picking on one religion or another, all of them have “good neighbor” rules, and so do atheists and agnostics.  I’m just saying I’m Christian and most of these passerby are likely Christian as well.

And not one of them stopped.

Her problems didn’t stop when I arrived.  She had the tire and jack out, but could not find the lug wrench.  Someone had apparently taken it out and did not replace it during a recent service call.   I went through 3 vehicles and could not find one with a lug wrench that would fit.  BMW wheels take a special size wrench and the wrench needs to have a thin wall and lots of strength.  

The “free roadside assistance” that came with the car meant at least an hour wait as they were more than 20 miles away in Atlanta Traffic.  I had to make a trip to a nearby Big 10 tire store to borrow one.   The manager was a good neighbor and did not hesitate to loan a wrench and an extension tube to increase the leverage.    It didn’t hurt that they had her in their computer as a customer. 

When I had returned to the car she said several hundred more cars had gone by – only one person stopped, a woman.   Well,  it seems like our area is batting well below a fraction of 1 percent on neighborliness, but now we are up to two good neighbors out of several hundreds of possibilities.

This was my very first indication that an old rule of the south, borrowed from the Boy Scouts – “do a good deed whenever you can” – has gone by the wayside.   Every religion that I know of has help-your-neighbor exhortations.  

I like the way The Message version of the Bible puts it:

 7  When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Deuteronomy 15:7 (The Message)

Golden Rule

 The more traditional way of saying it is the Golden Rule, which all religions have some form of.  Here is the Christian one, from the mouth of Jesus: 

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  Mathew 7:12 (NIV)

Stated simpy as the ethic of reciprocity:  treat others as you would like to be treated.

Folks, lets get back to helping others as a way of life.  We would all be better off.  Even the homeless.  Especially the homeless.

Maybe this is on topic after all.