“Homeless Jesus had no home,” says the artist, Timothy Schmalz, who specializes in religious sculpture. “How ironic.”
Watch the sculptor share his reaction to finding it so hard to find a home for his Jesus the Homeless piece!
You see another quote in the article where we first heard about this sculpture of Jesus spoke to us:
“A lot of people who don’t live in Toronto or a big urban place are shocked to see human forms under blanket on too many street corners.”
The reason it speaks to us is that it’s the obvious place we might see a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench.
We’ve shared the above image in posts showing a homeless person on a bench in what looks like a very comfortable position, nice pillow, a comforter that might be keeping them warm in the cold, but when you really consider the invisible homeless, sleeping in tents, in abandoned buildings or otherwise hidden from us while they try to rest (in reality many don’t sleep at night because its too dangerous) & what their lives are like you are struck with the reality of the question:
How do we meet the needs & minister to those people we never see?
The answer to that question can come from the traditional outreach approach of the existing service providers & staff of the Homeless Authority (expanded to include the CoC member organizations too) OR it can come from talking about what actually IS going on in Savannah every Saturday afternoon under the Truman Bridge, on the north side!
The story of how this ministry started is truly a God-story! You see, this nurse I’ve met who has started this ministry with some of her closest friends had been driving under that bridge for quite a while, going to & from seeing patients in her daily job.
She tells the story of feeling the Lord calling to her conscience as she drove under that bridge many times, asking her a simple question: “Why don’t you just stop & go see My people & their needs?”.
Finally one day she responded, by herself! She stopped on the roadside area under the bridge. The next thing she did speaks to her trust & faith in the Lord she follows & serves. She “prayed up” as we call it!
Because she knew that a God who called her to do this for Him would also protect her from any dangers!
(Dangers that others had told her friend, who sought traditional advice from not only another person of faith but one who also deals with the homeless in our community, it was “too dangerous” & just use the funds that you are going to raise to start & operate this “ministry” & donate them to traditional service providers) – we are not sharing the details of how we came to know this information to protect confidentiality & the perception that we are in attack node with this post…
The result of her activity to just go under the bridge there is now a thriving ministry that not only takes food, meets other needs (including their health needs since she is a nurse) & a message to these people experiencing their homelessness in somewhat of a dysfunctional community but also ministers to them in their pain.
You see, these people performing this ministry are called to do this because of what their Lord has done for them. He has taken them from the places these people are experiencing to the place of “perfect” peace that gives them the courage & calling to do this work of the Lord.
There are no Pastors participating in this effort. They are all lay people. Now they have various churches supporting them & they actually come back on Sundays & take the people living under the bridge to their own churches where they are welcome, because these servants of the Lord come from welcoming, changed congregations.
There is much to say about taking “church to the streets”, in this case under the bridge. Other communities have done this & in fact our first exposure to this came when we read a chapter of a book we’ve talked about before on this blog that described the efforts in Portland OR (Bridgetown Ministries) – we in fact will share the video below from the movie (documentary) where that ministry was talked about & shared!
Are we available when they are hurting?
Another story about this ministry needs to be shared here.
(BTW, they have shared their numbers with some of those living under the bridge & they talk also during the week as needs arise!)…
You see, we connected with this “Matthew 25” (their group on Facebook is named that) ministry because we were told about it by one of our people who comes out from the bridge to attend many of our street ministries & because of the broader work we are doing in this community he thought we should meet these people of God!
That was another of our God things we have experienced in this work we do. In fact every street ministry we have connected with has been because the Lord put them in our path in various ways!
(When he is not living there because he is housed for a while when he has a well-enough paying job, which he sometimes loses, winds up in jail because of the employer choice & then comes back to a street ministry on the day he was released recently)
Do we see Jesus in the face of every homeless person we see?
We also have a story to tell about washing the feet of these homeless under the bridge in Savannah! They did that on Easter Sunday!
They not only washed the feet of the homeless but they washed the feet of Jesus that Sunday, doing it to the least of these!
So, ask yourself:
“Perhaps the most powerfully moving scenes involve Christian volunteers who regularly set up camp in an area of Portland, Oregon, frequented by homeless folks, providing health care, washing and cutting their hair, even bathing their feet. That quiet service, unconditional love, and hands-on compassion, Merchant says, is what Christianity really is. And that’s a message that cannot be heard if it’s shouted.”
From the Night Strike video, Bridgetown Ministries shares their ministry here:
One more critical story to tell about “Matthew 25″‘s efforts under the bridge:
You see the folks we see under the bridge are actually people we have known for quite a while, when we were living in the Grace House even. Because of their relapses then (which put him right back out there on the streets in the element that caused them to relapse in the first place – this is our ultimate reason for Housing First!) & relapses now we see & feel their pain even more.
We have had wonderful, tearful discussions with this one person at other places (like a church who feeds quietly every weekday in their social hall with food prepared & served & with love shown) where he shared that he is inspired to help others (when sober) to fulfill their needs too.
But one time serving under the bridge we missed his presence (he is now under the bridge as the shelter experience is just too much for him). We inquired & found that he was in his tent with the flap zipped up.
Why you may ask, when he has been partaking in the past of the ministry efforts & excited to be there, was he now missing from the great blessings & not wanting to come out of his tent?
The answer was uncovered when one of the Matthew 25 servers “knocked” on his tent & found him hurting from recent relapses to the point he didn’t want to be seen by this group.
He was in too much pain to be seen, ashamed, as most get when they relapse.
So, guess what happened!
Two of the folks ministering to these lost souls separately walked up to his tent, took an empty paint bucket, turned it upside down & ministered to him.
Praying & sharing their own stories of transformation from the pain he was experiencing was an awesome testimony of how the Lord puts us in places when we need to be there to make a difference.
Now you tell me (if you like in the comments here) how can we ignore these people who are under so much pain.
This is just one story. We have many more of people living homeless who need to experience the love of the Lord real-time.
That is in fact the justification for Housing First Savannah, creating healing, recovery & renewal experiences, together with others who have come through this pain, in a community of love, care, understanding & with the accountability of iron sharpening iron to get folks back on track!
No pity parties allowed as that gets us nowhere when we are ready to get better!
When the need for housing is out of the way amazing things happen – the stats are there for the successes – we have presented some of them along with the taxpayer saving justifications & reported about it in other posts, sharing the presentation too on our websites & on Slideshare too!
Inquire if you can’t locate these presentations or better yet, engage with us to present at your social, church or civic groups! We’d be honored to engage & get you involved!
And finally, is there a call to Social Justice to the Church here?
We believe yes, of course & it needs to step up its game here in order to stay relevant!
You see, we found through one of our revelations on Facebook, yes they do happen, that there is in fact a group calling for “The Just Church”!
We choose to focus our interests on social justice as it relates to homelessness but it can apply to any under-served, crisis need we find in our world! The linked article above came from a review of the book on the “food for the hungry” website!
We choose to focus our attention on homelessness & in fact an even much broader Interfaith effort on homelessness as well. We’ve written about it elsewhere, done work to have an exploratory meeting to bring some of the community together on this issue & now are stepping up that game by seeking to create an Advisory Board to move that forward.
But it’s all based on the ultimate vision of Housing First Savannah!
So, we should be prepared with a solution to the “one size doesn’t fit all” issue of ending someone’s homelessness when they ask:
- They want to be homeless | really? You be the judge! (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Have you wondered how to get our homeless working again? | Jobs can come with (or after) Housing First! (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Are you ready to: Restart your Compassion And Justice? | compliments of: YouVersion, the Bible App – Featured Reading Plans (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)