According to endhomelessness.org, "In January 2014, there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Of that number, 216,197 are people in families, and 362,163 are individuals. About 15% of the homeless population – 84,291 - are considered "chronically homeless” individuals, and about 9% of homeless people, 49,933, are veterans."
There's nothing wrong with helping people in other countries, but what about our own starving citizens? That's like buying a pair of shoes for your neighbor's kid, but your own child goes barefoot.
I'm not saying split your salary, donate your paycheck, or feel bad about what you have. Neither am I suggesting to cease spending money to give it to the poor. We use a lot of money on carefree spending, so it's not really a sacrifice. Just the other day I was looking at a $250 kitchen blender to buy. They have $20 blenders at Walmart, but I want a nice one.
My husband and I were at 7- Eleven, and we saw a guy sitting on the curb. He was obviously homeless, but he wasn't begging. I bought a deli sandwich, cookie, and a bottled water. As we left, I smiled, handed him the bag, and said, "God bless you!" His sad countenance changed, and his face lit up with joy.
Charity starts with lovingkindness. I've read articles written by former homeless people, and they all said homelessness made them feel less than human. Why do you think that is? A smile, eye contact, acknowledging one's presence make us feel human, yet costs us nothing. As a Christian, The Lord gives us the responsibility to have the fruits of the Spirit, and help the poor when we are able.
My 4-year-old pit bull is more privileged than some people. She has her own bed, she gets plenty of food and treats, we keep her clean, and she never wants for anything outside of her being greedy.
1 Corinthians 13:2 says, "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."
Charity and compassion isn't about petting people in their foolishness, or entertaining people who don't want to do better. It's about helping people who sincerely need help. God helped us when we needed help. He saved us when we couldn't save ourselves. He forgave us, and tells us that we must forgive. Do you see where I'm going?
Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
So if God could sacrifice His Son, and Christ could sacrifice His life, we are expected to sacrifice. Sacrifice can be time, money, goods, etc.
We assume most people end up homeless because of drug abuse, or bad decisions, which is occasionally the case. But did you know some people have escaped domestic abuse, some have college degrees, and some were laid off from good paying jobs?
I know that people pretending to be homeless for profit makes it difficult. When we think the homeless person may be a drug addict or alcoholic, we don't want to potentially support their addiction.
I won't give money to buy drugs or alcohol, but I'll buy items to help them survive. God doesn't want us to be selfish and unconcerned, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
It's not about supporting people in their homelessness. Project Lovingkindness is about spreading the gospel, showing God's love, and providing resources to help people overcome living on the streets. I give for two reasons: sharing is caring, and I want to help someone get back on their feet. Every little bit helps, and it starts with me.
More on Project Lovingkindness in the next post!