Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why I Don't Feed the Homeless on Thanksgiving/Christmas

There are two times a year that many people (not just Christians) feel the urge to feed the homeless. Today is one of those days that I hear many people taking some time out to feed, as one person put it “those not as blessed.” No doubt this blog title has raised some eyebrows. Before you write this blog off...please allow me to explain.

My first reason is quite simple. It is my opinion that we make it out to be a photo op. There is no doubt at Thanksgiving we ought to reflect on what we truly are thankful for, to count your blessings. Some find it necessary to go and serve homeless people in order to find out just how blessed they really are. People who go to serve find out quickly that those they are serving may be in fact more blessed than they are. For a week or so prior to serving some may put together baggies full of supplies to hand out to homeless people. This is not a very well thought out plan however. What if next time I see you, I tell you how much you smell? Oh, I won’t say it directly to you but I will hand you a bar of Irish Spring and breath mints. My friend, Pastor Bob Beeman who feeds the homeless in Nashville every day said this...

“Our homeless friends receive so many "Christmas bags" every year with toothpaste, shampoo, etc. We find most of them in dumpsters and on the sides of the road. So many churches do this on Christmas, and it is over saturation. Why?  THEY ARE HOMELESS!  They don't have any place to store surplus items, and so much in the bags are things they cannot use. But, of course, the rest of the year they are digging through garbage cans trying to find these items.”

My second reason for not feeding the homeless is I have no rapport with them in my area. I believe this is okay however. We all have our ministries which makes the body of Christ unique. Often times people will show up to a soup kitchen, etc. on a holiday with big smiles “simply wanting to bless those less fortunate in Jesus name” and they are met with a cold response. Some that were there to serve may even walk away and mention how ungrateful those “less fortunate people” really are. Let’s think this through for a minute. No matter what social class you are at in life, there is always someone who has more than you do. What if one of those with “more” began serving you and even wanted a picture of them handing you a nice fillet mignon dinner? You may give a homeless person a bag of hygiene products or a warm plate of food and want a picture doing it...what if someone with more gave you something you didn’t have. Not only gave it to you but took a picture and put it on Facebook with the caption “helping out the less fortunate”? This kind of makes a person think differently. Like Pastor Bob Beeman’s “Bridge Bunch” and other ongoing homeless ministries...they have rapport with the people they serve. Day in and day out they show up and built lasting friendships with this great group. It tends to shoot down someone’s dignity when a person out of the blue (because it is a holiday) walks up to them...hands them food and is not seen until the next year. 

"The Church usually forgets that people are homeless 365 days a year, not just on Christmas and Thanksgiving. And, quite honestly, if they truly had a burden for homeless people, they would be involved throughout the year, and make these two days of involvement a little less of a photo opp." ~Pastor Bob Beeman

Isn’t it odd how some will need to do something for the homeless in order to get a proper grasp on how thankful they are? What is even more crazy is the very next day many will spend epic amounts of money on Black Friday sales. It always has been my assumption that one of the biggest ways a person can help a homeless ministry or soup kitchen is by simply writing a check. These ministries have functioned for a long time without the person that shows up on holidays. With that in mind...why not write a check? Perhaps if we lived with a proper perspective of thankfulness we would not need to degrade someone else's dignity to inflate our ego. I make no excuses as to why I do not feed the homeless on the holidays. Early in the spring of this year I took a group down to Pastor Bob Beeman’s ministry.....why? Because we decided as a church to support this ministry and I wanted them to see it first hand. It really does have a way of changing a person. If you or me are not willing to help out regularly we ought not degrade those being fed by showing up once or twice a year only to make ourselves feel good.  Christians ought not to show up once or twice a year to not only feed but maybe LEAD SOMEONE TO THE LORD! Those not regularly helping ought to do these ministries that function 365 days a year a favor and simply send money and pray. If you are not sure where you can invest your money, may I point you to “The Bridge Bunch”?

1 comment:

  1. I would say that if you have an empty belly, you are not going to worry about dignity as much as those who never knew that feeling, and you are going to be thankful for that satisfaction of hunger whenever and wherever you can get it. Priorities differ depending on the need. Sress comes in any and all colors, and knows no boundaries