Isaiah 58 v 7

 

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

 

And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;                

When you see the naked, that you cover him,

 

And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

 

Homelessness is something that is very close to my heart as I spent 11 years in that very situation. It wasn’t something I chose, but at the age of 19 I lost both my parents. Unable to cope with their deaths and lacking the skills needed to maintain a house or just looking after myself without their support I found myself slipping further and further away from everyday society. Sleeping rough or living in hostels, each day it became a little harder to get out of the situation I was in. Isolation, fear, shame and worthlessness led me down the roads of addiction to survive the pain that I was in. Each road led me further into an abyss of darkness. Moving from place to place each new location I would make a decision that it would be a new start, but as much as I tried I couldn’t break the cycle. Doing things to survive that were against my nature just continued to reinforce the worthlessness I felt. People walking past me every day telling me to sort my life out, get a job, calling me unrepeatable names, just pushing that knife deeper and deeper in my heart. Drink and suicide were never far from me.

 

Praise God after 11 years God led me to people that helped me get out of the homeless trap. Unfortunately not many of the people I met along the way in the same situation did. Statistics below are taken from a report compiled by the homeless charity CRISIS.

 

• The average age of death of a homeless person is 47 years old and even lower for homeless women at just 43, compared to 77 for the general population.

 

• Drug and alcohol abuse are particularly common causes of death amongst the homeless population, accounting for just over a third of all deaths.

 

• Homeless people are over 9 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population

 

• Deaths as a result of traffic accidents are 3 times as likely, infections twice as likely and falls over 3 times as likely.

 

• Being homeless is incredibly difficult both physically and mentally and has significant impacts on people’s health and wellbeing.

 

 

Ultimately, homelessness kills.

 

I have for the past 8 years worked for various organisations that are trying to address the problem of homelessness and yet the problem is rising year after year.

 

It is clear that our world is heading into further economic difficulties. This in turn brings greater unemployment and with the slow dismantlement of the welfare system homelessness is going to keep rising and it’s no longer those who society have expected to be homeless, but it’s happening to people and families who have till recent times lived quite comfortably and needed not to worry about their security. With times getting harder it’s only going to increase.

 

There are many government funded services out there that seemingly offer solutions to some of the problems that people present with, but in my experience most of these services at best offer a Band Aid solution, which last for a short while but soon become unstuck.

 

My experience of working and living within these government funded services have been more about gathering short term statistics to justify funding, initiatives that are failing due to workers filling in mountains of paperwork rather than working with clients to bring about effective change, but as with all government programs the need to be politically correct and socially acceptable actually creates environments where change is impossible due to the everything is permissible policies they implement.

 

As with most government policies Christian principles are being discouraged and secular principles are being encouraged. Even long term Christian associations have signed up to these programs and have been forced to adopt the secular principles which are destroying lives.

 

I believe whole heartedly that the only real answer to homelessness is Jesus Christ working through his church.

 

My life didn’t change overnight, it took years of discipleship, sadly one of the reasons it took so long was that churches weren’t able to deal with me. They had no understanding of homelessness and the effects that it has on a person. I once went into a church and was told that I was dirtying the seats. Another just refused to allow me into their services. It has taken me many years to become a member of a church, as my experience of church were so negative. Not all churches thankfully, I have met many great people in churches, full of the love of God. But I had enough bad experiences to leave me feeling that I didn’t belong there either.

 

I believe this is changing today. There as in recent years been a great moving in the church to being the solution to homelessness, with many finding ways of housing those whose lives have been afflicted in this manner.

 

One such organisation is called Green Pastures, I came across them a few years ago and below is a brief outline of their vision and history taken from their website www.greenpastures.net My prayer is that it will inspire all who read this to become a part of the solution to homelessness in our society.

 

****note

 

My life is very different today and that is due to Christ saving me and becoming the centre of my life and my heart’s desire is to be a vessel of love to those who are broken, I can’t do it on my own it is going to take the entire body of Christ working together.

 

God bless Kevin

 

**** note at this point Kevin included the logo and vision and history of Green Pastures which can be found on their website but for copyright reasons is not included here.

 

 

 

 

Homelessness and the Church by Kevin Greally

Download as rtf