Photo: CTV News
“No one is invisible to God,” my nine year old son declared after I finished reading the Bible with him. I asked him to expand on that and he said that it doesn’t matter if a person goes into a secret place, God will see him. And that brought to my mind what David wrote in psalm 139:7-12.
Where shall I go from Your spirit,
or where shall I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell at the end of the sea,
even there Your hand shall guide me,
and Your right hand shall take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light shall be as night about me,”
even the darkness is not dark to You,
but the night shines as the day,
for the darkness is like light to You.
It’s comforting to know that no matter where we are, God sees us. No one escapes His notice or His presence. Not even the homeless people who are huddled against the wall or buried under blankets while people pass by them as if they aren’t there. They are not nameless or faceless dregs of society. They too were created in His image and through many organizations, churches and individuals, He shows His love and compassion.
Homelessness is not an invisible problem and it will not go away any time soon but as a society, we can do something about it. Mother Nature Network offers 9 ways to help the homeless:
1. Educate yourself. There are myriad reasons why a person becomes homeless — lack of affordable housing, loss of a job, divorce, illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, et cetera. One of the first steps you can take toward helping the homeless is trying to understand how they got there in the first place.
2. Show some respect. Don’t treat a homeless person as if she were invisible. Say, “good morning,” when you pass or strike up a conversation on a park bench. Many people experiencing homelessness say that the loss of dignity that accompanies their situation is harder to bear than the actual loss of physical things.
3. Donate. Clothing is a big one here, as are shoes and food. Non-perishable items are always in short supply at food pantries and homeless shelters. Other items that might be needed include blankets, coats, books and small kitchen items, such as cups and utensils. If you are donating to a homeless shelter or another organization that helps the homeless, consider donating office supplies, electronics, appliances, phone cards or other items that might help those who help the homeless. If you see someone who is homeless in winter, offer blankets, food or tarps (if you can’t convince them to go to a shelter).
4. Volunteer. Sign up to work an evening shift at your local homeless shelter. Answer phones, sort mail, serve food, wash dishes, distribute clothes, babysit kids, clean floors, fix a leaky toilet. Find out what they need and how you can help.
5. Teach. Put your skills to good use by sharing them with the homeless. Organize classes through your local shelter to teach typing, accounting, plumbing, carpentry, child care, nutrition or even a new language. Those skills can help a homeless person find work and maybe even a better life.
6. Reach out. Invite a homeless person to your place of worship or a local community event. Organize an outing to take homeless kids to the movies or an ice skating rink. Offer moral support when you can.
7. Seek out job opportunities. Encourage your church or community center to hire a homeless person to paint, clean, type, answer phones or any other work that might fit. Many homeless people want to work but can’t find regular employment.
8. Get techy. Use your smartphone or other gadget to help the homeless. In San Francisco, download the app HandUp to read the stories of homeless people in your area and donate directly to those in need. In New York, the WeShelter app can help you learn how to get involved. And in Atlanta, every post you upload on the Luv4wrd app equals a coat, blanket or pair of gloves to someone living on the streets. Live somewhere else? Use a Google search to find a homeless app to help the people in your community.
9. Advocate. Call your local homeless shelters to find out what items are needed, then contact your local scout troops or civic organizations to organize food drives or other fundraising events to pull those items together. Follow local politics and speak up at town council meetings on issues of homelessness and programs for the homeless. Write editorial letters to your local newspaper about the issue of homelessness in your community and what people can do to help.
Homelessness isn’t their problem but our problem. We are urged to help the homeless and the needy. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land’ (Deuteronomy 15:11). Let us not pass the homeless on the street as if they are invisible. Let us look the problem in the face and do what we can.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy – Proverbs 31:20
Photo above: WOW Amazing
Sources: Bible Gateway; Open Bible