Friday, January 30, 2009

the homeless count #2

Last night, Grant and I joined Stephanie Gillespie, Arlington police officer and Pantego Bible Church attendee, for the 2009 Tarrant County Homeless Coalition "Homeless Count." In one evening [all over the country], a team of volunteers canvasses their city looking for the truly homeless staying in temporary encampments, under bridges, behind buildings and near vacant homes.

First, we met a beautiful women, on the road to recovery, who has recently adopted a young boy (from another mother who is an addict) and is re-starting a new life. Susie was a picture of hope and a reminder that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can dramatically rescue a person from sinking sand.

Next, we travelled to the pay-by-the-day motels in east Arlington. Tenants, living under the shadow of a multi-billion dollar stadium are packed into 300 square foot rooms--sometimes 7 or 8 in a unit. From there, two teenage boys led us back into the dark woods to a little settlement of a tent, blankets, rain tarp and folding metal lawn chairs. Nobody home.

At a nearby park, we interviewed "Bob" who claimed to be a former white collar worker, now on the street because of unemployment. We talked to "Jimmy" about how accustomed he's become with jumping around the social services that keep him making it day to day. Through a toothless smile, he spoke of a dream of having a steady income one day. We passed by pimps and their call girls, street corner drug dealers, a couple living out of the trunk of their car and grade school kids too young and innocent to be playing outside at 10 o'clock when the temperature was below freezing.

As we approached the end of our night, we spotted a pile of blankets on the back dock of a warehouse. As we pulled closer, a head poked out from beneath the mounded cocoon. A fifty-something man, unshaven and a wild mane of hair, was clearly put out by the disturbance. I wrote "unresponsive Caucasian male" on my survey and we left him alone.

The unshakable truth from our evening ride is that people are ever-moving toward something. The motel misfits are "moving" each day just trying to make it to the next. Kids caught in the cycle of poverty are "moving" through life, perhaps looking across their classroom [the only structure to their life] and dreaming that they might have a home and vacations and cool back packs like the other kids...one day. The "Bobs" and the "Jimmys" of the streets are "moving" from place to place. Home is where they lay their head. They have the keep "moving" because movement is survival.

And Susie---the adoptive parent that started our adventure---proved that God can "move" anyone to new places. When His Spirit is on the move, He can move hearts and move obstacles and move the hopeless to higher ground. With this in mind, I am once again reminded that people matter. All people. The mentally incompetent who picks up trash in his shopping basket, the deceptive drug pusher, the child with lice and a shirt she has worn for a week, the prostitute who waves and winks, the man who sits on the sidewalk and tells us mostly half-truths. The homeless do count. They count to a God who numbers the hairs on their heads, the fears they posess and the days of their lives.

May God move me more and more to make the poor count in my heart too.

7 comments:

Suzy Finigan said...

People matter. All people.
Amen and amen!

Anonymous said...

James 1:27 tells us "Religion" that is pure and acceptable by God is taking care of those who are less fortunate. Those who are less fortunate such as these you mention, the homeless, and others such as the fatherless, the poor, the widows and so on.

We do not have a choice (like Philemon forgiving Onesimus) if we are to be Holy as our Father in Heaven is Holy. "Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." - James 1:22

May all our hearts be broken and humbled so that God can use us to bring Glory and Honor to Him and "Go Beyond" until that final day.

da momma said...

wow...thanks David! You moved my heart and I look forward to Sunday am...

george lynch said...

david -- you thread it together beautifully with the idea of "moving." we are all on the move. as we become more transfixed by His glory, we move toward Him in our attitudes and behaviors so that He can use us to draw those who are also on the move like Bob and Jimmy to join Susie as she claims GOd's best for her life.

You got me moving.

george

David Daniels said...

thanks George!

The Batman said...

We had a great discussion in CG yesterday. Dr. Ron Blue pointed out how the core issue of the "down & out" is a spiritual one. No matter whether their economic circumstances change, if they come to know Christ, in the end they WILL "move up"--to heaven, if not the economic ladder.

Then it occurred to me, the church is the ONLY "social service agency" that can meet that need. City social services will not lead the homeless to Christ. United Way agencies will not. They will do their best to address their physical and medical needs, which is wonderful. But the only need that matters for eternity will go unmet unless the church engages the issues and offers what only it can.

Thank so so much for doing this series and not shying away because it isn't "easy" or "fun."

David Daniels said...

Batman,

thanks for writing. I have such high regard for Dr. Blue and he hit the nail on the head as we'll see in coming weeks! The underlying issue is a spiritual one. It's a spiritual problem that gets people into trouble and a spiritual problem that prevents me from helping them. And you're right: The church is the only "agency" that can truly help!