...and you won't be the last.
If you've been a regular reader here, you know I've been dealing with issues surrounding homelessness a lot since I took the new church. It's a daily interaction for us.
People who need food.
People who need shelter.
People who need bathrooms.
People who need a shower.
People who need laundry done.
And, if you know me, you know I'm a bit of an idealistic dreamer. I am enamored with the idea of changing the world. I'm fairly convinced we can do it, with God's help.
I've talked extensively with members of our outreach committee about how we address the needs around us and about developing a 10+ year plan for addressing one of the major issues in our city (i.e., domestic violence, teen pregnancy, homelessness, etc). We recognize that there is a need today--we have to feed, clothe, and shelter people according to their present needs. We also need to think about the systemic injustices and the way we could combat the problems on a larger scale--through public policy and awareness.
As I talked with one man, who is a strong advocate of helping and has done amazing things in his own life as part of his commitment, he recounted stories of other pastors who have tried to address homelessness in our city. Pastors who started shelters. Pastors who started food ministries. Pastors who succeeded for a time and then were pushed out or had to move on. In one sense, I think he was simply trying to tell me some of the history for our area. What I heard was, "Don't convince yourself that this is going to be easy or that you're the first one to come up with this idea."
Many have tried.
Some have succeeded.
Many have failed.
Combating systemic injustice and large scale evil is no easy feat.
Being young and energetic, it's easy to think "Well, if we just try harder and get x, y, and z in place, we can make this work."
Newsflash: humanity is broken. Sinful. Broken. Selfish. And we have been for centuries. We're the same hypocrites the Pharisees were and the same unfaithful *followers* the Israelites were when they were sent into exile time and time again. Our condition hasn't changed. Our hope has. Our understanding of God hopefully has, but who we are has not.
Nevertheless, I'm not discouraged by all that. It's an acknowledgement more than anything else. I need to remember that I am not the first and nor will I be the last. I also remember that Jesus has come as the light of the world and he has overcome evil and there is hope for the kingdom. There is hope for something different, something new, something good. And those things can be realized here on earth if we work at it.
So let us join the company of many who have gone before us and many who will come after and combat evil with the power of prayer and the strength of goodness and mercy.