An ACIM-Centric Ministry
... of Course!
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
- ACIM Introduction
Starting A Homeless Ministry
Starting a Homeless Ministry is one of the simplest, easiest and most rewarding ministries to have. Every church should have an outreach ministry to the homeless in their local community. It is churches and ministries, not the government, who ought to be helping the needy.
We are asked to help the poor. It is our responsibility. Although we can't help everybody, we can certainly help somebody.
There are many different ways to help the homeless, ranging from simply providing them with a free packaged-meal and some literature, to going as far as providing a shelter for them to temporarily lodge for the night to escape the brutal cold. I would definitely recommend giving out blankets, gloves, hats and warm clothing during the winter months.
It is heartbreaking to see someone living in a cardboard box in an alley as a makeshift home. It is common in big cities to see the homeless living down in the subways, away from the chilling winter winds, or sleeping on heated sidewalk air vents from nearby skyscrapers. The homeless are often shunned, despised and inhumanly treated by business owners. They are often beaten, bullied and robbed. Where are the poor to go?
The foremost concern when dealing with the homeless should always be your own safety. It is a matter of common sense. ALWAYS have someone with you if possible. It is unwise to minister alone in today's society. I have discovered that some people on the streets are mentally-ill. Whereas in the old days the mentally-ill were kept in mental institutions, now their families dump then on the streets and they collect social security or veteran's benefits.
Some have epileptic attacks and serious health issues. Others are psychotic and schizophrenic. They can't function in society and so they end up the outcasts, rejects and unwanted on the streets. Some are drug-addicts and alcoholics.
Many of the homeless, especially alcoholics, freeze to death in colder climates. The alcohol fools the body—making you feel warm while helping the freezing process. Some are medicated. Hundreds live in the storm drains under the streets. Can you imagine wheeling everything you own in the world down the street in a basket cart? Remember, everyone is somebody's son or daughter.
It's also recommended to minister in the daytime only, preferably in known areas where homeless people reside. Personal safety must always come first. That's one of the reasons why the Lord told us to go in pairs I believe. It might be helpful to speak with other ministries in the area. Never trespass on private property or enter into secluded areas that may compromise your safety.
Also, be aware of the reputation of the neighborhood you're in. Every major city has certain areas that are just too dangerous for ladies and children to enter into. Avoid high crime areas. If you do enter into such areas, keep in mind that there's more safety in numbers. The goal is to reach the poor for Christ and meet some of their basic necessities without getting mugged in the process.
If you meet a homeless person who you feel needs medical attention, call 911 for them. It's not recommended to let them ride in your own vehicle, unless you have a partner with you. However, even if you have a ministry partner, NEVER allow someone of the opposite sex to enter into your vehicle. You can't be too careful these days.
Also, it's never wise to wear expensive jewelry or watches when in public.
If you come across any stray dogs that look threatening, reach down as if you are going to pick up a rock. This scars away nearly all dogs. It really works. I guess they know from experience.
FOOD MANAGER'S LICENSE IS NEEDED TO PREPARE MEALS FOR HOMELESS
Without a food manager's license, you cannot legally prepare homemade food for the homeless (which I think is absolutely ridiculous). Most mid-to-bigger-sized cities don't care if the poor die on the streets. We've lost our sanity and compassion in America. If the city doesn't do anything and someone gets sick, then lawyers sue the city for not doing anything. It's greedy lawyers who are the problem, looking for anyone with deep pockets to sue. Lawyers are the scum of society and have ruined America. Numerous books have been written on the subject, including THE CASE AGAINST LAWYERS by Katherine Crier. Americans are forced to hire greedy lawyers by a rigged and evil court system, and then people are expected to appreciate being bilked and financially ravished.
WHAT TO GIVE THE HOMELESS
I RARELY give more than a dollar or so to people who ask; but I often give $10 to $20 worth of food to poor looking folks who don't ask. If they are asking me, I don't know if they're sincere or not; but if I'm offering something to them, and they're not asking, then I know they're sincere. I look for homeless people everywhere I go and keep a stack of books in my car to give them with some money inside. Homeless people are dear to the heart of God.
A lot of people condemn giving money to the poor on the basis that they'll go buy alcohol or that they're insincere. That's why I choose who I give money to instead of waiting for them to come to me. When people ask for money, I keep spare change in my pocket and give them a little change, but it's less than a dollar. They thank me. However, when I see a poor person and I choose to give them money, I make it $20 and a book. That's how I do it. Unless I suspect alcohol or drugs, I generally always give people something, even if it's a quarter when they ask.
It is best NOT to give money to the homeless if they are in an area known for crime, and you think they may be at risk, it just makes them more vulnerable to be robbed.
Unfortunately, some of them will spend the money on alcohol. If I see an alcohol bottle or smell liquor, then I don't give them any money. I don't want to add to their problems. Alcohol is dangerous. Tragically, many homeless people freeze to death during the winter months. The alcohol makes them feel warm, even though they are freezing to death, and they die. Each situation is different and unique. I knew personally of two different men in Chicago who died this way. I hate booze!
Consider what items you would likely need if you were homeless. It's a good idea to assemble some basic necessity gift packages, containing perhaps some of the following items:
Gloves, socks, earmuffs, scarf and blanket (during winter)
Vienna hot dogs in a can (with easy open lid)
Pre-cooked, easy-open foods
Soft snack foods (many of the homeless have dental problems)
Snackables (cheese and crackers)
Fresh fruit, nuts, a few pieces of wrapped candy
Couple small packs of Advil
Chapstick or lip-balm
Hand-lotion for dry-skin
Toothpaste and toothbrush
McDonald's gift certificates
Addresses and phone numbers of nearest helpful shelters
Addresses and phone numbers of nearest caring and doctrinally sound churches
Handwritten note of kindness
It's helpful to place all these items in some type of cloth carrying pack that they can continue using.
A homeless ministry is something that anyone can do. But by the grace of God, we would all be homeless. This life is so short and we'll be in eternity before we know it. I don't know about you, but I want to spend the remainder of my life helping others in Jesus' name, so that I may please the Lord.