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The Homeless and Our Response

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  • The Homeless and Our Response

    I have a question for my fellow Christians:

    What do you see as the appropriate response to the homeless?

    I occasionally, mostly when I go to a nearby big city but sometimes I run into it in my hometown, encounter homeless people begging for money (or sleeping out in the open). I sometimes give them money.

    When talking with my family about the homeless, I heard safety concerns and a bit of skepticism about what they would do with my money (i.e. might spend it on drugs or alcohol). That is very true. It is also true that bad things can happen to anyone. So I am a little reluctant to judge people I've never met. At the same time, I am a little hesitant to talk to people I don't know and there is a bit of a safety concern (especially in the big city).

  • #2
    I try to help them. Give them some money maybe get them some coffee. That is what My grandma did when she encountered the homeless in Ireland. I was not a christian then but I knew her faith motivated her.

    I was also called a yuppie by a panhandler. I forgave that guy after I came to faith.
    sigpic

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Paula View Post
      I have a question for my fellow Christians:

      What do you see as the appropriate response to the homeless?

      I occasionally, mostly when I go to a nearby big city but sometimes I run into it in my hometown, encounter homeless people begging for money (or sleeping out in the open). I sometimes give them money.

      When talking with my family about the homeless, I heard safety concerns and a bit of skepticism about what they would do with my money (i.e. might spend it on drugs or alcohol). That is very true. It is also true that bad things can happen to anyone. So I am a little reluctant to judge people I've never met. At the same time, I am a little hesitant to talk to people I don't know and there is a bit of a safety concern (especially in the big city).
      Offer them a job doing things like mowing the lawn, raking leaves ... (okay, not exactly "big city" things but I'm sure you can come up with stuff) which you'll pay them generously for. This helps separate those wanting help from those looking for a hand out.

      Another thing you can do is buy them some food and the like that way there is much less of a chance that they'll take what you give them and get drugs or alcohol if they are predisposed to do that.

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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      • #4
        The Mayor of Houston, an African American Democrat, says that giving money to panhandlers only makes the situation worse. (Houston has its share of homeless)

        http://www.khou.com/news/local/mayor...orse/328023703

        "Giving money" to poor people is a "feel good" thing for people -- actually engaging them and hearing their story is a whole 'nuther dimension.

        Jesus didn't just hand out money, even though they had a guy with a money bag - he engaged people at the point of their need. I would suggest, if you really care about the homeless, engage them. If you can't do that, what good does 'giving them a little bit of money' do?
        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
          Offer them a job doing things like mowing the lawn, raking leaves ... (okay, not exactly "big city" things but I'm sure you can come up with stuff) which you'll pay them generously for. This helps separate those wanting help from those looking for a hand out.

          Another thing you can do is buy them some food and the like that way there is much less of a chance that they'll take what you give them and get drugs or alcohol if they are predisposed to do that.
          I was thinking fast food restaurant gift card. Much easier to carry around than food. Regarding the other things you suggested I don't live in the local big city and don't own property that I could get people do to odd jobs for, but I think its good advice because you do want to give people the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty. If I did own a business one idea would be to offer jobs to people in those circumstances. I kinda get why businesses don't usually do that--unreliability of people which will impact the profit margin, but at the same time that would be a real practical way of helping people.

          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
          The Mayor of Houston, an African American Democrat, says that giving money to panhandlers only makes the situation worse. (Houston has its share of homeless)

          http://www.khou.com/news/local/mayor...orse/328023703

          "Giving money" to poor people is a "feel good" thing for people -- actually engaging them and hearing their story is a whole 'nuther dimension.

          Jesus didn't just hand out money, even though they had a guy with a money bag - he engaged people at the point of their need. I would suggest, if you really care about the homeless, engage them. If you can't do that, what good does 'giving them a little bit of money' do?
          Well, I think Jesus offered something way better than money--healing and redemption, but I get what you mean. I probably do need to come out of my shell more and talk to people. I should look for opportunities to engage with people. I probably can't offer them anything lacking ownership in a business or a property but I think demonstrating that your friendly and that you don't look down on them might be a start.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
            Offer them a job doing things like mowing the lawn, raking leaves ... (okay, not exactly "big city" things but I'm sure you can come up with stuff) which you'll pay them generously for. This helps separate those wanting help from those looking for a hand out.
            bad idea. You do NOT want to invite strangers over to know where you live. Especially if you are a woman.

            Another thing you can do is buy them some food and the like that way there is much less of a chance that they'll take what you give them and get drugs or alcohol if they are predisposed to do that.
            I work downtown in a large city. There is a park near where I eat lunch sometimes. If I have leftovers, I will take them and give them to someone in the park who looks like they need it. But there are a LOT of scammers in the area too. Some people will actually drive up in nice cars, wearing rags, and get out and start begging. That is how they make a living, by lying and then they go home to their nice house and laugh at all of the gullible people. That is why I usually look for someone who is not trying to hustle but is obviously homeless or in need. Especially beware of sob stories like "I just need enough for bus fare to ..." or "my car broke down and I just need a couple of dollars for gas" and crap like that.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
              bad idea. You do NOT want to invite strangers over to know where you live. Especially if you are a woman.
              Yeah that is something to be concerned about, especially in the big city.

              Originally posted by Sparko View Post
              I work downtown in a large city. There is a park near where I eat lunch sometimes. If I have leftovers, I will take them and give them to someone in the park who looks like they need it. But there are a LOT of scammers in the area too. Some people will actually drive up in nice cars, wearing rags, and get out and start begging. That is how they make a living, by lying and then they go home to their nice house and laugh at all of the gullible people. That is why I usually look for someone who is not trying to hustle but is obviously homeless or in need. Especially beware of sob stories like "I just need enough for bus fare to ..." or "my car broke down and I just need a couple of dollars for gas" and crap like that.
              I was coming home on public transit and there was a guy walking through asking people for spare change. I didn't do anything and he moved on. Then my brain caught up and I looked at him closer...he was wearing (if I remember correctly) fairly nice clothing and hauling a tote behind him. Seemed suspicious to me.

              Of course I don't want to get scammed by someone. But even if I was scammed, one possible way to look at it is that my heart was in the right place. I don't want people to take advantage of my generosity but I also don't want to overlook something. I want to become better at this sort of thing but there are a lot of considerations to think about. When I think about it, I have a lot of sympathy for people in those circumstances (the genuine ones, not the crooks) but I don't realistically know what I can do to make their situation better. I guess Cow Poke did have a good idea about at least talking to them. Giving money is in some respects is just a band-aid, poverty arises from a multitude of factors.

              Recently I've been studying biblical interpretation and application. It's a lot more difficult then it looks because our cultures are so different. Poverty in a first world nation is different than the poverty in biblical times. Even if we are poor, there are so many things we have: universal education, food banks, welfare, libraries, employment offices, civic peace, human rights, and so on. And for us Christians we also have the blessing of being able to worship freely and express our faith. Our brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere not only suffer in poverty but face intense persecution.
              Last edited by Paula; 11-09-2016, 01:45 AM.

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              • #8
                Yeah the crooks rely on your guilt to just give them money and walk away. The poor will generally appreciate getting your attention and talking to you. I once met a nice homeless guy who called himself Super Dave. He even told me he was an alcoholic and would probably spend the money on booze. So I said, 'let me buy you lunch instead' and we went to Wendy's and talked a bit while we ate. After that I gave him a few dollars and said, "I hope you don't spend this on booze, but that is up to you" - I also talked to him about Jesus a little while we ate and told him of a nearby shelter, which he said he knew about and went to on occasion (it was run by a Catholic church)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paula View Post
                  Well, I think Jesus offered something way better than money--healing and redemption, but I get what you mean. I probably do need to come out of my shell more and talk to people. I should look for opportunities to engage with people. I probably can't offer them anything lacking ownership in a business or a property but I think demonstrating that your friendly and that you don't look down on them might be a start.
                  I just saw a documentary a few days ago where a local TV channel followed "the homeless", and found them delivered to their "stations" in a limo, and picked up at end of day... These people actually owned homes, and this was their "job" - the dressed down poor, and bilked people out of money, and moved from city to city with the weather. When confronted, they screamed obscenities at the news crew and got into their limo and drove off.

                  When I was a police officer many years ago, I ran the "bunko squad" - we investigated 'confidence games' (from which comes "con man") and found the same thing - many of these "homeless" people work a neighborhood, stopping at churches and local businesses with sob stories, working old people, many of whom are on fixed incomes....
                  "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                    I just saw a documentary a few days ago where a local TV channel followed "the homeless", and found them delivered to their "stations" in a limo, and picked up at end of day... These people actually owned homes, and this was their "job" - the dressed down poor, and bilked people out of money, and moved from city to city with the weather. When confronted, they screamed obscenities at the news crew and got into their limo and drove off.

                    When I was a police officer many years ago, I ran the "bunko squad" - we investigated 'confidence games' (from which comes "con man") and found the same thing - many of these "homeless" people work a neighborhood, stopping at churches and local businesses with sob stories, working old people, many of whom are on fixed incomes....
                    That was the case with a small group of panhandlers that stationed themselves at the exists off of Highway 75 in the county that I live in. One of the local stations discovered that they would get dropped off and picked up by a late model Mercedes.

                    I'm always still in trouble again

                    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Did I ever tell you guys the story of me getting almost panhandle in Dublin? I was called a yuppie. It is so messed up. They prey on sympathy.
                      sigpic

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sparko View Post
                        Yeah the crooks rely on your guilt to just give them money and walk away. The poor will generally appreciate getting your attention and talking to you. I once met a nice homeless guy who called himself Super Dave. He even told me he was an alcoholic and would probably spend the money on booze. So I said, 'let me buy you lunch instead' and we went to Wendy's and talked a bit while we ate. After that I gave him a few dollars and said, "I hope you don't spend this on booze, but that is up to you" - I also talked to him about Jesus a little while we ate and told him of a nearby shelter, which he said he knew about and went to on occasion (it was run by a Catholic church)
                        Several years ago, I pulled out of a local business driveway just as an old guy was crossing the driveway on the sidewalk on his bike. The sun was low on the horizon, and I didn't see him til he was right in front of me, and I bumped him with the front of my truck just enough to startle him, and knock him off balance, but not knock him over. We talked, he assured me he was OK, and he told me he stopped by the mission for the evening meal, but was too late.

                        I have him $20 to buy some supper, realizing full well he MIGHT spend it on booze or cigs, but I was really needing to be somewhere else.

                        A couple days later I saw him sitting in front of Kroger on one of the benches to the side of the main doors. I parked, got out, and sat next to him. He looked at me funny, and said, "hey, you're the guy who almost ran over me". I said, "yeah, that's me -- and I saw you here and I want to hear your story".

                        He asked, "my story"? I said, "yeah, you're not the usual down-and-outer - you seem like a really sharp guy, and I have to believe there's a story here, and I want to hear it". He got a little misty-eyed, and said "nobody has ever asked me that before". I didn't say anything - just waited.

                        He told me he got back from Desert Storm, found out his wife had shacked up with an old boyfriend, he started drinking, couldn't find work, found out he had a daughter by her that he didn't even know she was pregnant... I don't recall all the details, but he just "gave up". I asked him what his MOS was in the Army (or whatever they call it these days) and he said he had been the accountant for the base commander. He laughed and said "I was a horrible soldier, but I was great with numbers - they just come naturally to me - I see them in my head and they all make sense".

                        Long story short, since I was the HR guy at my company, I asked him to stop by to talk to our accounting people, and I'd introduce him. I knew of a Church that ran a jobs ministry, and part of their ministry was that they collected used business clothing for men and women, so we got him a suit. They also helped him with shaving stuff and toiletries, and he showed up for the interview. He actually cleaned up pretty nice!

                        We had a "field house" in Refugio, Texas that needed some accounting help, and they had a bunkhouse on the property for 'security', because there was a lot of vandalism in the area due to illegals running through, breaking in, stealing food, and causing messes. It was a great fit for him, cause he didn't need transportation once he got there - he lived right behind the office where he would work, and they always kept the fridge stocked for the technicians.

                        He worked there for about 4 years, and really cleaned up his life, bought a truck, and one day when I was visiting that field office, he asked if he could talk to me. We walked out into the field - kind of a rocky desert environment - and he said "they tell me you're the chaplain". I said, yeah, and he said, "then you can tell me about Jesus?" I just smiled and said, "that's the plan". We talked for a couple hours, and he said he came close to giving his life to Christ in Kuwait, but he needed to think about it some more. Then he said, "I thought about it, and I want to do it".

                        So, we prayed, he received Jesus as his Lord, then told me he had a real problem. He explained that a competitor has been talking to him, and he got a job offer for almost twice what we were paying him, and they'd help him finish his CPA. I asked what the problem was, and he said "well you got me this job, and I don't wanna make you mad or hurt our relationship". I told him "I think the Lord brought us together to allow me to get to know you, encourage you a little, and get you back to Him - what you do for work is entirely up to you, and we'll still be friends".

                        I wish we had had an opening in our company for an accountant at the time, but this was great - the competitor was a good company, great benefits (not as good as ours, but great ) and I knew the woman who would be his manager.

                        So, every once in a while, these things work out really great!
                        Last edited by Cow Poke; 11-22-2016, 10:15 PM.
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                          That was the case with a small group of panhandlers that stationed themselves at the exists off of Highway 75 in the county that I live in. One of the local stations discovered that they would get dropped off and picked up by a late model Mercedes.
                          That's the story LOTS of places - and they play to your sympathies.
                          "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                            Offer them a job doing things like mowing the lawn, raking leaves ... (okay, not exactly "big city" things but I'm sure you can come up with stuff) which you'll pay them generously for. This helps separate those wanting help from those looking for a hand out.

                            Another thing you can do is buy them some food and the like that way there is much less of a chance that they'll take what you give them and get drugs or alcohol if they are predisposed to do that.
                            In DC, they've been known to throw away food handed to them - they have shelter at night, and they get fed there morning/evening, but get kicked out to wander the streets all day.

                            On the other hand, there's a woman who's been coming after church with her grandson for a free meal and help with bills off and on for quite a while now. About three weeks ago, she started actually attending the service, brought her mother, and is interested in becoming a member.
                            Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                            Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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                            I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                              That's the story LOTS of places - and they play to your sympathies.
                              That's why it is best to offer them a job doing light yard work or chores. It quickly winnows out the fakers from those legitimately wanting to "work for food" etc.

                              I'm always still in trouble again

                              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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