There was a knock on my door just a moment ago. An older man, late 40s or early 50s he had a 6.75 horse power mower and a gas can and he wanted to sell it to me. I did not need it nor did I have the money to buy it.
I could see the exasperation in his eyes so I asked if he was thirsty and he said he was so I invited him in and sat him down I brought him a mug of ice water. He inhaled that so I said, “More?” He nodded and out I came with another. As he was working on that one I asked him if he was hungry and he was so I cranked out a couple of PBJs and a stick of celery and a clump of grapes, fresh off my vines, and another mug of water.
Then my guest said, “Are you Muslim?”
I said, “No, Christian.”
“Really? Never met a Christian who treated me like this usually they either won’t talk or they tell me to get a real job or repent. Or I have to come to their church to get something I don’t need.”
I say nothing….then I ask if he is on the streets. “Not yet,” he says. “Why?”
“Oh I thought that if you were on the streets you might want to take a shower.”
“You’re serious aren’t you?”
“ Yup,” I said.
“What’s your name or handle?”
“My friends call me Faithwalker,” extending a hand. It is received gladly and his name is Mark. Then Mark thanked me for the lunch and took the mower and walked off.
St Francis once said we were to always preach the gospel and sometimes even use words. (or something close to that.)
The median salary for a family of four in the United States is about $42,000. A family of four can live pretty well on $40,000, if they spend wisely. Just a bit of care, and one can do pretty well.
You can send two kids to college with $40,000. A kindergarten teacher makes a little more than $40,000, and so does a basic graphic designer. It’s not shabby, but it isn’t excessive, either. A pretty basic amount. You can’t live excessively on $40,000, but you can survive.
Did you know that Anawim’s budget is about 40,000 dollars a year? Our total budget. Some years we get that full amount in donations, some not. Not sure you believe me? Look at how much we spent last year.
- We provide a staffed day shelter, warehouse, gardens, mail, worship for the homeless in Gresham.
- We provide about 20,000 meals a year all over Portland.
- We provide hygiene items, clothes, and sleeping gear to over 300 homeless around Portland and Gresham, even if their items are stolen or taken away.
- We provide about 4000 pairs of socks and about 2500 showers a year for the homeless.
- We provide housing for up to 10 homeless individuals at a time.
- We providing caretaking and management for a three acre property in Gresham.
- And we are open at our regular hours every day of the year, no closing for holidays, because the homeless don’t get a holiday from being homeless.
Mind you, this 40,000 isn’t miracle money. It means that our staff don’t get a salary, even if they work up to 60 hours a week. Some get housing from Anawim, everyone gets at least some of their food from Anawim.
- Our ministry isn’t able to do all we can because we have a lot of money. Helping the poor doesn’t require tons of money, just a lot of heart and a lot of commitment. And some friends who are poor.
- We’d love to have a larger budget. We’d love to provide a salary for our staff, or at least a regular stipend. We’d love to give everyone breaks and perhaps a staff retreat. We’d love to have a day shelter in St. Johns. We’d love to reopen in Southeast Portland again. We’ve got lots of plans. We are just waiting for the Holy Spirit to stir some folks to give us the finances we need to do it.
- You don’t have to be wealthy to help us financially. You hear about those organizations that say “any little bit helps.” Well, we mean it. We are so close to the edge all the time that we literally praise God every time someone donates a bit to the kitty. Occasionally it means that we get to keep the electricity on. Really.
- The average pastor of a congregation in the United States makes twice as much as our whole organization does. I’m not judging, I’m just saying. You draw your own conclusions.
This is going to sound like a “Strong Story”.
I had just picked up Cheryl for church this evening and we were driving to my home. Yeah, it’s a house church.
There is an area about a mile away from my home that many homeless folks have camped in and other formerly homeless folks have moved into a remodeled hotel. Lately that area is looking more and more like skid row. Which is generally great for me because I love the homeless, and I think that having an area where they hang out near my home is awesome.
Today, though, we were driving by and we saw two folks who hang around out there fighting, partly in the street and partly on the sidewalk. I was feeling pretty good today, so I stopped, parked the car in the middle of the street and got out.
“Hey! Stop that!” I yelled as one man was hitting another. They backed off a bit as they realized someone different was getting into their personal business in the middle of a public street. The guy who I had seen hitting came straight to me, but his eyes were frightened, not aggressive.
“These guys were harassing me! I was just sitting on my cardboard and they won’t leave me alone!” I saw the cardboard, and considered if what he was saying was true. Then another guy slowly came over and started to approach the first guy, who backed off around my car (still in the middle of the street). This new guy slowly kept after the first guy, as slow and as steadfast as a zombie. As he backed away, the first guy said, “Just leave me alone.”
I approached the new guy and said, “Back off.”
The man said, “No.”
The first man said, “They were harassing me. They’re drunk.” This is clearly true. The zombie-lurch and slow thought process is clearly due to an excessive use of alcohol.
I said, “Why are you bothering him?” He looked back at me as if he’d never considered this question before. I repeated, “Why don’t you leave him alone?” Then he just wandered off as if his series of actions no longer interested him.
The first guy said, “Thanks,” and went back over to his cardboard.
As I drove away, I could see in my rearview mirror the drunk harassing guy going after the first guy again. I would have stopped again, but the first guy had picked up his cardboard and was quickly moving away. Which is what he should have done in the first place. I mean, anyone can outrun a zombie, right?
And I’m thinking… this is a great place for ministry. And right near home. Anyone interested in partnering?
This post is part of a series that answers neighbor’s objections to the activity in Anawim.
Although most people who come to Anawim are polite and do all they can to keep the peace, some people do have behavior that is “not acceptable.” Yes, some people drink on the property when we have rules against it. Some people make too much noise. Some people cuss like a sailor (or worse). And, yes, everyone loiters. Loitering is what people do when they don’t have anything else to do.
And you neighbors find this activity unacceptable. But all of this behavior is the same behavior that you participate in yourselves. In our meeting, one of the neighbors complained about people using foul language on the church property, but he couldn’t keep himself from using foul language when sitting in our sanctuary. The behavior that is most complained about is behavior that would seem perfectly normal, if found in the privacy of one’s home.
The problem, of course, is that the homeless don’t have privacy. Trust me, they’d love to have some. They don’t want to have their arguments in public. They don’t want to drink in public. They don’t want to be seen as shameful people, unacceptable. But, like most people, they do certain “unacceptable” actions because they are greatly stressed. But they don’t have a place to do this behavior in private. And that causes them even more stress.
For every person who is mentally ill, being homeless makes it worse. A person who drinks or smokes weed occasionally, spending a long time on the street will increase that activity considerably. For every person with occasional bouts of anger, being homeless makes that worse. The greater stress anyone is under, the small cracks in a person’s life become gaping holes.
What we do is give people limits, to give them reasons to be at peace. We have people who are trained to calm people down and to help them to not do such behavior, at least as much. Some people are too far gone to pay attention to our reasoning. Occasionally, someone is having too difficult of a day to get under control. And we get in some new people who are learning the system. But generally, we are a community of people wanting to help each other, working together. We request patience as we try to get unacceptable behavior under control.
Laying the foundations for a new work in Southeast Portland. Testing the waters for a possible shelter for the Saint John’s folk. Spending time with family and hanging out with and old friend and having a *proper talk* filled with catching up and the Kingdom of God.
Then on the way home a “rescue”.
I was driving down Lombard and just as I was approaching North Greeley, on the North side of the street in a Parking lot on the west end was this person in a wheel chair doubled over and waving a scarf. In my heart of hearts I knew they were in trouble and so just before the light changed to green for the east/west traffic I pulled a highly illegal U Turn cutting off a couple of cars and getting honked at and probably cursed.
I went down half a block took a couple of right turns and was in the parking lot next to Molly.
Molly the Quadriplegic, whose assigned helper had abandoned her, had her control wand jarred out of the reach of her mouth when she had hit a pot hole in the pavement of the parking lot. Turns out she wasn’t waving the scarf it was just fluttering in the breeze.
She had been in the parking lot for about 3 hours before I should up.
Now I was about to call 911, when an ambulance was driving by and I called out and they came to help and then they made a couple of calls and things started happening. I found had a water bottle on the back of her chair and was able to give her a drink.
Molly thanked God for my being observant. I just thank God for the Angel who was waving the scarf…….