Pastor Steve’s Full Blog Posts
Portland and Gresham has been pushing the homeless around for 60 days. Over the last few weeks I’ve spoken to dozens of homeless people who have had their possessions taken by city workers and the police have come and given them hours or minutes or days to move. Where are we supposed to move to, they ask. We don’t care, the answer is, just go.
Some police have told some of the homeless to leave the city and if they come back, they will have them arrested.
Increasing the suffering of our poorest citizens increases the suffering of us all. Those of us who care about our homeless friends are suffering with them, and we have to supply them with blankets and tarps because the city has taken their supplies.
Call the mayor of Portland and let him know that we do not approve of our city causing the poorest of our citizens to suffer. Ask him to not tell the homeless to move on unless he has a safe place to move them to. You can’t legally tell them to not exist.
Call the mayor’s comment line today. Make a difference for the poorest in our community. 503-823-4127
If you live or work in Gresham, please contact the mayor of Gresham to ask him to stop the police from harassing the homeless for camping. Let him know that we want all our citizens to live in peace, and we would like the police to focus on real criminals.
Email Gresham’s mayor Shane Bemis at MayorBemis@GreshamOregon.gov.
Also, please contact Multnomah County. A large camp on county property has also been moved in the last couple weeks. If all the cities and the county are moving against the homeless, then the homeless are being told that they have no right to exist. This is illegal! Please provide places for the homeless to go before they are moved.
Contact Deborah Kafoury, the chair of the county commissioners at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are living spaces for community X in every city. The majority of citizens recognizes most of this community on sight, and are disgusted by them. Almost all the members of community X are citizens, but their rights are not recognized or upheld by officials. In fact, many officials are trying to strip the rights of these citizens from them. Their very right to exist is questioned.
An X’er knows that at any time their home might be violated by the police and, at the discretion of the officer, they could be given twenty four hours or ten minutes to pack up as much as they can and move. They might be given a list of places they may move to, which includes an overcrowded building full of people who will often take their possessions, or nowhere at all. X’ers are often told by officers to leave their city and not return. Often they are escorted by the police to city limits and dropped off on the side of the road.
Some cities have a designated place for the citizens that belong to community X and tell all the members of that community that they may not live anywhere else. Of course, this is the most destitute part of the city, full of crime and disease. Often the members of community X feel privileged to have a place to stay at all. It is hard to say whether those who have a ghetto to live in are better or worse than those who are constantly told to move out of their homes.
Local officials often hire people to steal the possessions of community X. These men go from home to home, taking the beds, blankets, sentimental possessions, identification and other necessary items out of their home. These belongings are tossed right into a dumpster and thrown away. In the rare community, these possessions might be placed in a yard for twenty four hours, where the owners might be able to pick them up. After the day, they are thrown away to make room for more possessions of community X.
Some churches have mercy on members of community X. The members of this community may spend a short amount of time on church property, safe from officials that want to ravage their possessions and themselves. But other churches are just as likely to call the police as soon as they see an X’er trying to hide on their property. They agree with officials that members of this community are dangerous to society and deserve to be harassed and even arrested. If a church does help those of community X, they are punished by their neighborhood or police officials, fined or occasionally arrested for assisting those who need mercy.
Members of community X are considered so offensive, that they are not offered jobs, although they may be allowed to work without pay. Occasionally kids will beat up a member of the community, or an officer will shoot an X’er, but these crimes are winked at. After all, they aren’t really people.
This is no allegory. Nor is it a description of early Nazi Germany. Community X lives in the United States and they are the homeless. The chronic homeless are the feared and dehumanized of our society, even worse than homosexuals or illegal immigrants. They are segregated and hated by many in our society.
The way we treat homeless people is the dividing line of this nation. When people look back on the individuals, churches and governments within this nation at this time, they will divide us between those who assisted the hated citizens of this nation and those who poured derision and shame upon these citizens who did nothing wrong apart from not having the ability to rent private property.
We need to take a stand for the homeless, or we will find the next holocaust is in our own backyard. This may sound over dramatic, but from what I’ve witnessed, eventually the pity will drop off and all there will be left is disgust for our fellow human beings without roofs.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and they are His because he made them and subdued them and established good for all creatures—clean water, clean air, good food and sufficient shelter for all. He then created women and men in His image, and gave us this good creation: all the earth, all the creatures of the earth, the real of the air, the realm of the sea and the realm of the land. God also gave us ourselves to rule. He gave us this world to rule for good, not for ill, to sustain and to create the Good, for we were made in His image and we were to rule in His likeness.
Humanity soon decided, although morally we are as toddlers, to rule ourselves and the earth without God’s counsel or assistance. This is not as it was intended by the Creator. He and we were supposed to rule in partnership, we ruling and he advising and empowering. In rejecting the Creator in the rule of the earth, we rejected Love, we rejected Justice and we rejected true Power. Without the Creator, we became narrow-minded, established self-serving systems and those who understood the good were powerless to establish it.
When Jesus came, he demonstrated a life of true partnership with the Creator. He lived out and taught the law of Love, which did not have so much as specific rules as the basic principle of living for the well-being of others. Jesus established justice by inviting the Creator to breathe life into those who are dying. And Jesus relied on the Creator to demonstrate that true power comes from Him—not from politics, not from medicine, not from education nor from religious ritual. Rather, it is an ongoing relationship with the Father that justice and love and power arises from.
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The church is but a shattered image of Jesus. Some pursue a relationship with the Father, praising exuberantly, attempting to live out His will, seeking His truth, to the exclusion of all else. These will spend hours a day in prayer or study or meditation, seeking the descent of heaven in their lives. They seek God to work in our world, believing that He alone can establish the Good.
Others are working to establish God’s kingdom on earth. They are loving all, creating places of peace, establishing justice, working with the needy and establishing the good. They look to God to infuse them with Love and Truth, and they do the work for they believe that they are His hands and feet.
Both sides have forgotten the partnership. There is a place for human work and a place for the Creator’s work. The Creator guides us to acts of love. Like Jesus, the Creator shows us the work we are to do and we step into it. But we must pray to depend on the Creator’s power. We recognize our weakness, but it is easy to rely on human power to establish “God’s work”.
Yet Jesus didn’t rely on his own power. He left his home and family. He had no medical knowledge to heal, yet he healed. He didn’t carry food with him to feed the thousands, yet he fed them. He didn’t have a degree in psychology to bring peace to the mad, yet he gave them peace. He accomplished his work through his boldness to approach the most needy around them, to understand the work of God and to step into God’s power to create life. Jesus had nothing but his compassion and his reliance.
On the day of his arrest, Jesus saw the crowds coming, and he warned his disciples. The disciples, having not prayed, only saw those who would separate them from their God. They were the enemies, the hateful, the despised. So they fought, then they retreated, then they scattered. But Jesus, having prayed, was full of the love and power of God and saw people whose lives were on the edge. So he healed, he comforted, he taught and he forgave. He did not see enemies, he saw the needy.
Even so, God has put in our path the needy. We know people whose lives hang in the balance. They will die unless they have the touch of the Creator. And we are to be Jesus to them. We are not their Savior, rather, we are here to provide the way for them to touch the Savior. We are to speak the word of love the Creator put in our mouths. We are to touch them and pray for healing. We are to ask them what they need. We are to speak the hard truth in gentleness. We are to feed the hungry. We are to give shelter to the homeless. We are there to save lives.
But we are not to do this on our own. We are not the Lifegiver. We are not the Creator, but simply the mediator for the Creator. We do not have energy to be there for everyone who is dying. But the Creator does. And He will give us the energy and power and love to create justice. If…
If we would but pray and listen and work His work. We need to pray because the work is not our own, but a partnership with the Creator and He gives us the power. Without prayer, God does not act through us and our strength is insufficient to do the work. We need to listen because in many ways we are still toddlers. We deceive ourselves into thinking that our way is God’s way. We listen to truly understand love. And we need to work. Without work, our prayer is simply words. We pray and then we step in our prayers, embodying them, with God to give us the power.
Thus is the world subdued to peace.