Archive for October, 2011

How Should We Help the Homeless?

October 28, 2011

This important question has not been answered well, in part, because there are so many facets to homelessness. The truth is, if we are followers of Jesus, then His command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27) means that we are all called to serve the homeless, because they are our neighbors. They live all around us in our city.

One way to help is to use a set of Dignified Questions as your guide, in order, such as What can YOU do?, What can THEY do?, What can WE do?, and finally What can I do?

It starts with compassionate listening in order to hear the problem. Once a person presents you with a need, start the solution process with the question – “What can YOU do?” This shows the person asking for help that they actually have great value and maybe some resources to address their own problem that they have not considered. It also shows them that you value their own opinion and empowers them to think and rise above the problem at hand.

If the problem cannot be resolved with the first question, then the next question should be – “What can THEY do?” “THEY” are the people that care (family and friends) in the person’s life. THEY have resources and could individually or collectively help to resolve the problem. And doing this recognizes the dignity of the family and friends that can contribute to help.

If the problem still cannot be resolved, then you should move to the next question – “What can WE do?” This is a good dignified approach because you are not solving the problem 100% by yourself. It is a collaborative effort to work to find a solution. For instance, a woman asking you to help her collect her food stamps might be best served by agreeing to show her how to do this on the computer. You could even help her setup an e-mail account, so she can communicate online with the government to get her food stamps becoming equipped to help herself and others in the future. The dignified solution is found together and each one did their part to help.

Lastly, if the problem is still unresolved, you need to make a decision by asking – “What can I do?” Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. How can I show love to this person? Being empathetic and listening compassionately is a great start. God calls us to recognize that each person has been created with great dignity – great value. You might not be able to solve their problem, but you can find ways to show respect to them. Everyone has a story and everyone likes to be given devoted attention that shows them they are important.

This should help bring us full circle, knowing that God is the only One who can have any lasting impact or change in the lives of the homeless. The truth is we all need help. We are all struggling with present and past problems that are unresolved. Do you want to help the homeless? Then set out to love your neighbor by asking Dignified Questions when they need your help. Lean in and listen well. In the end, true help (change) can only come through Jesus Christ, who gives us healing from all our struggles and makes all things new.