So the newspaper headlines say after the findings of a Federal review that Portland Police tactics with the mentally ill are too harsh and will have to change. Unfortunately they haven’t started enforcing the changes yet.
When Anawim on SE 39th was in operation there was a guy named Larry. As long as Larry was on his meds he was a really nice guy. But if he forgot to take them even once he would become belligerent and antagonistic and a general pain in the tush.
I had heard that Portland Foursquare had a new pastor and that this guy had a heart for the Homeless and the Poor in general and I was urged to seek him out. Which I did today, but he was busy having a chat with a number on like-minded ministry leaders from other countries. So I left a card and a message that I’d like to have a meeting and left. Their church is nestled in one of those unique border areas between the middle to lower classes and the upper to flat-out rich class of people and they have a desire to unite them both with them being ground zero. Very cool and very courageous.
So then I was heading off another journey (errand) and I chose to meander through the houses and neighborhoods of the rich for they have these mini-mansions and I was envisioning them as Community Houses and it was really quiet with just the squirrels and the crows playing with the nuts……..then a police car swooshes by and another from a side street and still another and their lights are flashing but their sirens are silent. As I come around the bend of the street they are gathered to form a large circle and they are shouting the command for the individual to get on the ground and the individual was shouting back in defiance.
That voice…..screaming in defiance…….I knew that voice. I stopped. I got out of the truck and advanced along the sidewalk until one of the officers ordered me to stop. I said, I know him his name is Larry and he is mentally ill and I am his Pastor. The officer spoke into his radio and then I was allowed to go forward.
“LARRY,” I said in a voice loud enough for the police to hear but not to appear to be yelling at Larry. Larry looks at me for a moment and then smiles. “Larry,” I said again, “can we stop with the yelling?”
Larry grins and says loudly but not yelling, “Well, they started it by yelling at me”.
“I know, but they don’t know any better. They don’t know how to talk normal.” Larry digested that for a moment and then chuckles. “Larry, are you on your meds?”
“Naw, I ran out.”
“Do you have your doctor’s phone number?” He holds out his wrist and on the medical emergency bracelet is his doctors phone number. I call. The doc talks to Larry and then to me and I agree to give Larry a ride to the pharmacy at Providence where a nurse will administer the medication in a shot form and then give him some more pills to hold him over till the end of the month.
I then go and talk to the head officer who was up for this and then said, “I wish there were more pastors like you around.”
I winked and said, “There are. All ya gotta do is ask. I’ll get you a list.”
The police departed and Larry climbs into my truck and off we went and he got his shot and his pills and a free lunch and a ride to Mt Scott’s rec area so he could use his voucher for a shower (Which he really really REALLY needed). Half a can of Lysol later and the truck smelled normal again.
Ya know, It is said, that there is no greater gift than the laying down of one’s life for another. And this is true, but I would say there is no greater reward than the giving away of your life for one another.
Did not Jesus say, He who seeks to save his life will lose it and he who loses his life for My sake will have eternal life. So if you are going to spend your life doing something make that something and eternal something.
This is a part of a series of questions asked Anawim about the homeless by our neighbors in Gresham.
This may seem on the surface like a ridiculous question, but it is a very real issue in cities throughout the U.S. Not only are neighbors asking this question, but cities are making sit/lie policies to move the homeless off of public sidewalks, parks and benches.
The funny thing about public spaces is that they are for… the public. That’s pretty much anyone.
Sure, a person involved in a criminal act can be arrested.
And there are some activities that aren’t acceptable in public spaces, like having sex, drinking alcohol, fighting. And the police can be called if these activities are happening in public spaces.
I hate to inform you of this, but the homeless are part of the public. Almost all of them are citizens. This means that they have the same rights as any other citizens: innocent until proven guilty; freedom of speech; life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. The whole works.
So asking the homeless to remain out of sight, to stay only in certain areas, to remain out of sight where families might see them… well that smacks of segregation talk. Do you really want to go there?
The real issue is, most people in their comfortable homes don’t want to be reminded that poverty exists, and that it is uncomfortable. Those who have their needs met don’t want their children exposed to those who are in desperate need. Those who are secure don’t want the poor around for it makes them insecure.
But to say that the poor shouldn’t be in public is tantamount to saying that poor people just shouldn’t exist. They should just disappear. They are uncomfortable, so they don’t belong where we can see them.
Not every displeasing part of life can be hidden from view. If you think it is uncomfortable looking at a homeless person, just think what it means to BE a homeless person. Oh, perhaps that’s why you don’t want them there. If you see them, you can see yourself in their place. If your children see them, they can be made as uncomfortable as you. Or worse, they can ask you uncomfortable questions like: “Why is that person digging through the trash?” Or, “Why don’t we help that poor person over there?”
The uncomfortable parts of life are there to stir our compassion. If we chose to let it stir our anger at the poor, we are using the wrong emotional tool.
It was a curious thing that I was allowed to watch today. A young crow launched himself from the arm of a street light and was I believe attempting to land on a patch of lawn on the other side of Division across from the Dairy Queen on 56th street. However the young crow misjudged the distance and kind of had a hard landing in the middle of the east bound lane on Division.The young crow was having some problems reorienting himself and getting back onto his feet.
Then this marvelous thing happened. Four large adult cows landed and surrounded the younger crow. They even held their ground against a very large dump truck. Even when the driver of the truck honked his air horn the crows would not abandon the young crow. When the young crow finally got himself together and launched himself with a flutter of wings and was clear of the street and actually on the lawn did the four older crows relinquish their claim on the street, and flutter over to join the younger crow.It is said that Creation is the reflection of God’s glory and power. It is also said that the chief cornerstone of that power is Love.
So if the Elders of a flock of Crows deems the value of the Life of their young at a level worthy of the sacrifice of their own lives how much more should we be willing to sacrifice our lives for our brethren and our children.
Today I was helping a neighbor with a project. After awhile he took a break and I wandered into backyard/ forest to see how my grapes were ripening.
So I picked a small cluster and began to munch on them. as I was gazing at the yard I became aware of a bit of scurrying in the deep shadows of my forest. And then out came a nice plump grey squirrel. He did not show any fear at all and came up to with in 6 inches of me. I plucked a grape of my cluster and held it out and Mr’ squirrel placed his left fore paw upon my knee and reached over and took the grape.
Now I should mention that I was sitting on the back steps when this all transpired. So Mr. squirrel turned the grape over a couple of times sniffing it and then stuffed it into his mouth chewed and swallowed. I offered another and the same procedure repeated itself again and for three more grapes. Then Mr.Squirrel turned and scampered off back into the trees and then up the maple.
I was about to get up when Mr. Squirrel showed up again. This time though he came baring gifts. Well a gift. I was presented with a green Walnut. He came right up to my lap and deposited it and then step back about 5 feet to see what I would do. I took the nut and turned it over in my hands and then put it in my Pocket. Then the squirrel turned and went back into the tree.
In March of 1995 Steve and Diane Kimes asked Edgar, a homeless man just out of the hospital, into their home for something to eat. It was late, and they were getting on the bus for church, but they recommended that he come over the next evening for dinner. He agreed. At two in the morning they received a phone call from a bartender who found their phone number in Edgar’s pocket and asked if he could sent the heavily inebriated man to their apartment. They agreed. Their relatively safe life was over with that decision.
Soon they were feeding people every night in their SE Portland apartment. Occasionally they would have someone stay in their living room. They would listen to the stories of the homeless, learn the unique culture of the drunks, drug addicts, mentally ill and those who just don’t measure up to societal standards.
Eventually, they expanded this ministry within their church’s walls, but their apartment was always a center for help, assistance and housing. They would care for wounds, allow people to rest, get some food and a few could stay overnight. The church they were attending was unwilling to continue to allow the homeless to use their facilities, so Steve and Diane decided to begin their own church, a church made up of the homeless and mentally ill. A church where people could interrupt, take smoke breaks and can openly talk about their poverty and addictions. A church were absolutely anyone, especially the destitute, addicted and socially unacceptable could meet. This is the beginning of Anawim.
Their church services were not limited to just worship. A group of the homeless and outcast prepared and served a meal, new faces were greeted and stories were heard, and a community was being encouraged to form. This day shelter was only one days a week. In 2009, Steve organized a number of churches in the Gresham area to form a day shelter network so the homeless and those who had nowhere to go could have a church to rest in, out of the elements and unwelcome stares of the police and neighbors. Now there are four churches providing day shelters six days a week in Gresham.
Steve and Diane were forced to move out of their apartment, which allowed an opportunity for a generous giver to grant them a house in North Portland. This house now keeps the Kimes family as well as up to 10 other homeless folks.
Right now, Anawim has a three acre facility they are renting, which the homeless are planting with gardens. There is a Red Barn which is being used as a makeshift warehouse to store bedding and clothing donations for the winter. And there is a church building which is used for day shelters 3 to 4 days a week.
Most of churches providing day shelter also have wished to provide overnight shelter, especially during the winter. The Gresham Fire Marshal barred any shelter to be granted in churches unless under emergency conditions, which usually meant under 25 degrees. Anawim and a network of churches approached the city and slowly they are allowing more facilities to meet the criteria and they are allowing the definition of “emergency” to be met, under certain conditions, to up to 32 degrees.
In the past, Anawim has provided meals, shelter and worship for the homeless and mentally ill in various parts of Portland. Right now, a formerly homeless couple from Anawim is beginning to open up a new branch in St. Johns where there are currently no services specifically for the homeless. Food, clothes, companionship and worship is provided for the homeless who live there. There is a possibility of providing showers and some limited shelter in SE Portland as well.