If you to talk to anyone who has found themselves homeless, you will find that very few of them thought they would ever find themselves in that state. In some cases, the real estate crisis has left entire families on the street.
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. —Deuteronomy 15:7, KJV
So how can we as Christians help in this complex and difficult challenge? First, we must recognize that there is a problem and to educate ourselves on ways to prevent and alleviate it.
Start with your own neighborhood. Look for signs of neglect in the house and yard. If it is a neighbor, try to strike up a conversation with them and find if there is anything that you can help with. Many religious institutions have special funds and organizations within the church structure that can help with various repairs and yard upkeep for even non-members.
Research what state funded assistance and legal aid is available in your area. In a lot of cases, free legal help may be available to rewrite loans with more affordable terms. In cases where families have simply bought a dwelling that is beyond their means, you can help by steering the family to a more affordable dwelling.
In some cases, the cause is not from bad purchasing decisions but is the result of loss of employment. Again, some churches have programs to help the unemployed find new work or training. Many states provide assistance in this area. Become familiar with these various programs.
Another cause of the homeless situation is the abuse of alcohol and drugs. In cases such as these it is wise to defer to those professionals who have been trained to handle such situations. Seek out information on local rehabilitation centers and to steer those unfortunates to these havens.
For a hands-on approach to the problem, look for “city missions” where temporary shelter, medical care, bathing facilities and meals are available. All of these shelters are in need of volunteer help and funds. It may be something as simple as helping to supply and serve a meal, socializing with the less fortunate or doing a church drive to collect toiletries and towels so that the recipients can get cleaned up. Even clothing drives can be beneficial.
It is suggested that before undertaking any project, you first visit a shelter near you and find out what particular needs they have. In some cases, you may be called on to volunteer as lay counselors, holding scripture studies and prayer gatherings.
Whatever capacity that you find yourself in and no matter what project you decide to partake in, it is important to remember one thing: Never judge those who are less fortunate. Even in cases where their state of collapse was due solely to their mistakes, you must find compassion in your heart. Remember that no matter how far down the ladder of humanity people fall; they are still children of God who can be brought back up as useful members of our community.
Jesus set the perfect example when He walked the earth by seeking out the poor and down trodden. He healed the sick, the lame and the blind, brought comfort to the poor and asked us innumerable times to do the same. Therefore it is our duty as Christians to follow the example of Christ and to seek out those who have fallen through the cracks of society and to give them true solace and comfort. If we do this, the blessings of the Lord will be showered upon us all the days of our lives.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. —Psalms 102:17, KJV