It was about 2:00 AM and I was carefully making my way to the bathroom, hoping not to stub my toe or wake my wife Vicki. As I was coming back to bed, I remember thinking "Man, its cold in the house." Now, mind you I have a heater, a thermostat, a blanket and a warm bed... but the truth is I was a little irritated about how cold I felt at the moment.
Immediately I began to think of how many people don't have the luxury of a roof over their head, a blanket, a bed or a heater and I felt convicted. Now truthfully, most of us have had this same moment... a quick thought where we realize how blessed we are... and there may even be a quick prayer of thanksgiving. But how many times do we go beyond that thought and ask the question, "How can I make a difference?"
So I want to help you with some answers to that question. Here re five ways you can make a difference. There are many more, and feel free to leave additional ideas in the comments.
5 WAYS YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE..
- Educate yourself. A homeless person may be someone who has lost their child, someone dealing with grief, or mental illness, or a runaway child. Some statistics say that as many as 40% of homeless people are veterans. So, start by researching. Google is your friend. Find out what resources are in your area. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you are in the Pensacola area, you can start by looking at this page. Or search through some of these resources for starting a homeless ministry. Click here for a cool pinterest page. Click here for ideas for helping the homeless. Click here for seven great ideas for ministering to the homeless.
At our church, we do outreaches to the homeless where we give them bags we have made up to help them. These bags have snacks, toiletry items like toothbrush, toothpast, comb, wipes, socks and more. There is also an information card about local homeless shelters. These are put together by our Made with Love ministry at Coast Community Church.
Made with Love started after someone in our church told us about a businessman in the church who was going through hard times. He looked successful but had not eaten in days and was close to losing everything, but had too much pride to ask for help. We started made with love with food bags that provided 2-3 days of meals and put them in our church foyer with a sign that said, "If you are hungry or know someone who is, please take a bag." We have given away so much food through this program.
My friend and fellow ARC pastor, Timmy Gibson goes homeless once a year to raise awareness for homeless ministry in his city. There is a great article and video about his ministry, you can see it by clicking here.
So the first step is educate yourself. I recommend talking to churches and homeless ministries in your area. Again, google is your friend. You can learn so much with a google search.
- Pray. This is a no brainer. Prayer changes things. When you begin to pray, God begins to open your heart in ways that you could never imagine. Here's an idea of a prayer for the homeless.
O GOD, Almighty and merciful, who heals those that are broken in heart, and turns the sadness of the sorrowful to joy; Let your fatherly goodness be upon all that you have made. Remember in pity those who are this day destitute, homeless, or forgotten by their fellow men. Bless the congregation of your poor. Uplift those who are cast down. For those who suffer innocently, I pray that you will sanctify their endurance of the wrongs worked on them, keeping their hearts free of bitterness. Cheer with hope all discouraged and unhappy people, and help those who are tempted into sin by their poverty; though they be troubled on every side, suffer them not to be distressed; though they be perplexed, save them from despair. Grant this, O Lord, for the love of him, who for our sakes endured poverty and blameless suffering, your Son, our Jesus Christ. Amen.
This prayer was found online here.
- Give. Give your time... your energy... your resources. I realize that the temptation is always to give directly to the homeless people you meet... but again, prayer may direct you otherwise. Sometimes you can be more of a help by giving your time, energy and resources to organizations in your city that are already working with the homeless on a daily basis. They have proven plans and programs in place to make a difference.
So give... don't just pray. Be a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only. Give money to homeless shelters in your community, or ministries in your local church that work with feeding others.
- Serve. Every ministry is constantly looking for people to help. You can go to a shelter and volunteer in the feeding program. You can get involved with a church that is opening up their building for the homeless when tempratures turn colder. Find a place to serve.
Here's an amazing idea called Laundry love. Here's a group that is offering showers for the homeless. Here's the thought... there are a million ideas... and so many different ways to serve. Pray and then act. You can make a difference!
- Share. Share this blog post with your friends. Talk about it with your kids. Spread the word. It all starts with awareness.
YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD... ONE PERSON AT A TIME!