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142 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    Sometimes our good works start out with self-serving motives but that should not stop us. Practice makes perfect! Motives will improve with time.

  2. Michael says:


    I hope so…but I’m getting pretty old!

  3. Xenia says:

    I’m even older! But like you, I am more inclined to give money to the guy with the dog.

  4. Michael says:

    Dogs are excellent marketing tools for the beggar…I’ve thought about carrying dogfood in the truck.
    I can’t stand to see animals suffer…but I’m less concerned about the people that own them.
    God isn’t quite finished with me, evidently…

  5. I would be so offended at a homeless guy with a DOG (read; an optional expense) that I would NEVER (read; usually unless God…) help that person.

    Plus, its bad enough to see ‘sign guy’ but now I gotta see “blog guy with a sign guy” so…

    Pharaoh (read; hard-… you get the idea… make your own application) Dread

  6. Chile says:

    I agree with, Xenia. We may trip over our own mixed motives trying to love others, but we just have to keep trying.

    I have to remind myself that the dog is important to the person. I grew up where the animals had to go if you couldn’t pay you bills. I’m told this is heartless. I just thought of it as practical. God knows its mixed for everyone involved.

  7. Michael says:


    Just keep your eyes peeled for homeless Moses…

  8. His Kid says:

    It’s important to struggle with these things, Michael. I just returned from Haiti where we had to constantly be aware of the potential of “hurting instead of helping.” What do you do when you gather up a group of street kids–orphans–who are wearing rags…and you have a bag of nice clean clothes that you brought from America? We had to go through what we brought and find the older, hand-me-down, faded items that we had in our pile. We wanted to give them our best, but that would have made them prey to the people who beat them and take what ever they have that looks like it has value. We had to take those kids away from the town square in order to feed them some beans and rice, because they would have been in danger if we did in front of the other hungry people. What do you do when you visit an orphanage where you KNOW the children are being abused, but you have to swallow the lump in your throat and just love on the kids, because if you do anything suspect, they will be beaten when you leave. If you look like you might be moved enough to donate money to their abuser, he will treat them kindly…at least for a time. Now I know these are extreme examples. Everything in my heart that I longed to do to help these precious people had to be examined and considered. Will what I want to do “help?” Or “hurt?” And that is not an easy question to answer. Especially from someone on the outside looking in. So, I know that I will have to do what my dear friend has been doing for three years since her first visit there. I must invest myself in their lives and build real relationships with them so I will better know how to help and not hurt. And I will come home, as she does, and cry myself to sleep as I lift my brothers and sisters in Haiti up in prayer. And in the meantime, I will get involved with the hurting people right here in my own corner of the world and build relationships with them, too. I have no way of knowing if I am hurting someone that I hand money to on the street–I might be helping, but I might not. But if I go down to the local shelter and get to know the people there personally and hear their stories and invest time in their lives, I have a better chance of being a help to them. It’s never a simple thing to do…and it ought to be. It ought to be simple to offer a helping hand to someone who needs it. But the world is a complicated place…I just pray that Jesus will break my heart for these people in the same way His is broken.

  9. I’d encourage you all the read the book When Helping Hurts. I just finished it for the second time and it is incredibly valuable for in understanding how we help.

    With that, this issue Michael blogged about today is incredibly personal. There is a local organization in the area that attracted about $10,000-$20,000 around Christmas time to help with needs. The put together food boxes, deliver toys and in connection with Tri-County Love INC help with clothing. Six months ago there was a meeting with the leaders in that organization, the food bank, the local mission and a few other people. What was said by the food bank, the local mission and others was this annual event is double serving people, pulling money, product and material out of the hands of those who help throughout the year and overall serving the same people year after year after year. The leaders of this Christmas time organization basically said, “We don’t care. This process makes us feel good that we are helping the community.”

    I was having my tooth pulled that morning and miss the meeting. However, I was told by the others who were there that I probably had the better morning.

  10. Michael says:

    His Kid,

    That was priceless.
    Thank you.
    It reminds me of when we used to travel to Juarez… I never knew what to do when so many needed so much.

  11. His Kid says:

    I haven’t read “When Helping Hurts” yet, but it has been recommended to me and those who have read it shared a lot of insights from it on our trip to Haiti. It applies to the local scene just as much as an international trip, I’m sure.

  12. Michael says:


    That’s some sobering information.
    How would you advise people to give in general with these organizations?

  13. His Kid says:

    Michael, This was my second trip to Haiti, and I know I will go back again. Because I have started real relationships with some of the people there, and their needs are my needs now. I can work directly with them to help in real ways, because they know better than I do what the complications are on the ground and what will truly help. My friend tells me that one of the best things you can do is go back and I believe it. It all boils down to relationships.

    The people here locally who are on the front lines of working with the homeless understand the challenges better than I do, as well. Anyway you look at it, it takes getting involved to a higher degree than you might be comfortable to start with. But God has a way of guiding you gently on that journey.

  14. Chile says:

    I pray for wisdom because only God knows the heart of the matter. You can give money to one and it be a good thing and to another and it be bad.

    Haiti is complicated, same with Africa in general. Some locals are working in Hatian orphanages in order to take them over by force. They steal the property and the kids become slave labor and sex toys. A friend lost his orphanage this way. He rescued 12 kids and started over elsewhere.

  15. His Kid says:

    Chile, as much as we want to line those kids up and march them out of the orphanage, we are allowing the local Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ lead the way. They know better what will truly help and what won’t. We are working hard to get those kids safe. God knows what to do. We pray for His protection over the children and keep doing the next thing that the Holy Spirit puts in front of us.

  16. Chile says:

    Haitians are tempted with the western money that comes along with being a pastor. One time, while touring a Hatian Pastor’s ministry, I asked what the difference was between his standard of living compared to the people he reaches out to? He said, “It’s the same as Rockefeller to you.”

  17. His Kid says:

    It’s a “Pastor” who runs this orphanage…and he is one of their abusers. Heartbreaking stuff….everyone knows it. Nothing can be done…yet. God is at work–we have seen His hand in this already.

  18. Chile says:

    His Kid, may God lead you and give you discernment. Over the last 25 years that I’ve been involved, we’ve seen many nationals who seemed legit for a long time, only to find out they were working that Western money in a negative way, often with hidden abuses that the kids had to keep quiet. It’s just a tougher field than most when it comes to finding trustworthy locals to empower in the ministry.

    Most places necessitate local leaders to be effective at all. Haiti has proved to be incredibly difficult in that area. I’d pray and keep one eye open.

  19. j2theperson says:

    The two homeless people I have known personally and had a opportunity to get to see close up on a regular basis both seemed to be homeless because they preferred to be homeless rather than make the behavioral or lifestyle changes they would have to make in order to not be homeless. Plenty of support would have been available to them if they had wanted to change, but they didn’t want to.

    I have a friend who works with homeless people on a regular basis and based on the stories I hear her tell, my impression is that these people have major problems with addiction and self-destructive behavior and, by and large, are, like the two people I saw close up, not willing to deal with the issues they need to deal with in order to be able to provide for themselves.

    When I see someone begging I do not feel guilty if I do not give them money. I don’t feel that it is my christian duty to assist them by giving them money or food.

    If I do give a person who is begging some money I, again, don’t feel it was my christian duty to do so. I just do it because why not? And when I do it I don’t assume what I gave them is going to help them or affect them positively.

  20. Chile says:

    When Helping Hurts is a good book.

  21. His Kid says:

    Thanks for your wise words, Chile. My friend has learned some hard lessons in the past few years. She has become savvy quickly, by necessity. She is a real prayer warrior, though, and God has been faithful to guide her steps. She inspires me, and I’m grateful to walk alongside her.

  22. Michael says:


    That’s the other side of the coin.
    Thinking about that sometimes help me be less neurotic about the subject… 🙂

  23. Chile says:

    Here’s a story that looks at the other side:

    Girl grows up in troubled home. The mother moves in and out 4 “husbands”. The girl has to move a lot, witness abuses, and care for her younger sister at the age of 5, while mom is gone.

    By middle school, mom finds a man and they decide to do the “Christian” thing. They do a 180 and tell the girls this is who we are, what we believe & how we act now. No transition time, no understanding the girls’ perceptions, reality, or fears of when the next change will take place.

    The girl is a misfit in the new rich white suburb and syrupy sweet church. Everything she does or says is a mistake. She begins lying so she can fit in and be somebody. It doesn’t work. Signs of mental illness begin to show. She discovers drugs help her escape. Her mom publicly announces her shame and embarrassment at her daughter’s non-Christian behavior.

    Fast foreword, girl in trouble with the law for not paying rent, no one to help her. She and 2 kids on the street. Kids taken from her she spirals. She’s on the street corner asking for drug money. She can’t go to the church, she thinks that’s not real. The programs just make her sober so she can feel the pain more intensely. No Thanks.

    I know this girl. I can’t blame her. I’ve taken a long term approach to try to help the paents see it from her point if view.

  24. covered says:

    His Kid, keep up the good work. God seems to be a bit more “accessible” when you are doing what you are called to do in these horrible places.

  25. I shared with you guys a few months ago about a homeless man who was baptized at my church. Like numerous other homeless people, he is mentally ill. The dollar isn’t going to cure his mental issues, ever. This one guy is a success story because we got him checked into a mental institution. I know that is not the expected fairy tale ending to this story, but that is the really more often than you’d think with the homeless. They are simply mentally ill. They need major help. For most of them, they will never be able to get out of homelessness without psychiatric care.

    That being said, a dollar or a burger can make a homeless person’s day a lot better, so I say go for it.

  26. covered says:

    Great word Josh. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ or Nazareth, rise up and walk” Money will not always solve the problem.

  27. Kevin H says:

    I am always torn when I see a beggar. Sometimes I give, sometimes I don’t. There’s no consistency to it.

    I used to work with a guy who had previously “worked” as a street beggar for several years. He was fully able to work, but chose to do this instead because it was easier and found that most times he could make more than working a minimum wage job. His wife also worked full time during this period and was the main provider. His income was simply supplementary to the family.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t give because of people like this, but it always makes me wonder.

  28. Chile says:

    Denver has great programs for the homeless individuals who can work. They give them a room and menial labor to earn TV, a suit, and job interviews. Lots of help for those folks.

    We are encouraged to give new socks to them on the corners. They can get 3 meals every day and a bed at night.

    The mentally ill often can’t go in those places. They need food & drug money. Remember they don’t have prescription meds like we do.

  29. Xenia says:

    I walk a lot in our little town and I try to talk with folks on the street. My favorite in a young hippie man named Dale who travels with two pit bulls. He’s a very sweet young man and he loves those dogs, which he claims keep him sane. They also protect him. His biggest fear is getting in trouble with the cops with him being sent to jail and the pups being sent to the pound where they will surely get the needle of death. So, he misses out on many of the programs that will take him but not his dogs. The “right” thing for him to do is to give away the dogs (who would take them, though…. besides Holly, that is 🙂 ) and get going with some church or gov’t program. He just can’t bring himself to be a traitor to his two best friends, though. He’d rather be on the street begging. This guy isn’t a scammer, he’s not crazy, but he is eccentric and tenderhearted. I rather like him.

  30. Xenia says:

    When we go to a big city like San Francisco, my husband always comes prepared with one-dollar bills, which he gives away as the Spirit moves him. When the bills give out, that’s it for the day.

  31. covered says:

    Xenia, you have so much to offer people. I wish I knew more folks like you who see things with their heart. Thanks for sharing.

  32. London says:

    I don’t think Jesus weeps when we help someone.
    I think the worry about that sometimes makes us hesitate to do something to help someone.
    Too much time worrying about our own motives makes us slow to act.
    If you feel like helping someone, then do it.

  33. Xenia says:

    Aw, shuck, covered. >blush<

    London, I agree.

    I think the worst thing is to develop a cynical attitude about homeless people. Sure, some of them are scammers and criminals but unless I know for a fact that they are crooks I think "judge not" is a handy rule of thumb. I know everyone has a hundred horror stories about homeless people who were offered jobs and wouldn't take them, etc. but for the sake of our own souls, it's better not to probe to deeply into their lives because you will never find a pure one, one pure enough to deserve our dollar. And if they knew how impure I am, maybe they wouldn't want my dollar!

    My husband and I have the attitude that yeah, a lot of these people could do a lot better for themselves than beg on the street. But we think, was it ever the life goal of these people to be filthy and cold, living in a tent down by the creek or under the overpass? What went wrong in their lives? Who failed them? Or who did they fail so miserably that no one wants them back? I have a daughter who would probably be homeless if we didn't continually overlook stuff and help her out. I was homeless myself for a short spell because I did not have a parent who would help me like we help our daughter (who is doing well now, btw.) So many variables. It's just a dollar and for a dollar, they can get a burger. I don't think giving someone a dollar for a burger merits too much soul-searching.

  34. London says:

    It’s not only about homeless people, although we always tend to make it that way on here. It’s about anyone…
    His Kid’s story about Haiti is true…be wise when you give, but give.

    I think sometimes some of us worry too much about gathering our treasures in Heaven, so we spend time worrying if some act or other of ours is going to garner us a check mark on the “gets treasure” side or the “no treasure for you” side…

    Just do the dang thing and worry about the “treasure” later.

    Not saying that Micheal is doing that AT ALL, just that I’ve seen that attitude some times.

  35. Xenia says:

    I overcame my homelessness by joining the Navy, by the way.

  36. I never consider what the homeless would spend the money on. If I was in their situation, I would need a drink too – so I won’t deny them.

  37. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    don’t overthink the process

  38. “she looked like she may have just lost her job in the fabric aisle at Wal-Mart.”
    My wife works in the fabric aisle at Wal-Mart. I say thanks for helping this woman!

    Kevin said: “I am always torn when I see a beggar. Sometimes I give, sometimes I don’t. There’s no consistency to it.”
    I know that feel. I just give as I am moved and try not to worry about it. If I feel a strong urge to give money to someone, I just do it and figure the Lord has some purpose in it. I had the Lord chastise me once for not following through and felt bad for awhile about it.

  39. cHad says:

    I interact with the homeless regularly. If you were living as they are living, you would want a dog too. They are constantly at threat of being robbed by one one another, and if they don’t have a few friends to watch their back as they sleep, a good pit bull is the next best defense. For years, I looked on with a judgmental heart. However, when you get to know the people on the streets, you learn… that many of them have no other option. There is a small percentage that chooses that life, but the majority are there because there is no fit for them in society. They are severely broken, and just don’t fit into the real world. We pass out small bags with daily provisions in them. We offer meals, rides, whatever we can when we can. I’ve pledged to never pass one without praying for them. They are the ‘least of these’ and Jesus loves them.

  40. #36 MLD. That reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said once.

    “Also memorable was Jack’s “enormous compassion and charity”. Douglas recalls a story where Jack and a friend were walking to a meeting one day when they were approached by a beggar. The beggar asked them for some spare change whereupon Jack gave him everything he had. Once the beggar had gone, his friend said, “You shouldn’t have given that man all that money Jack, he’ll only spend it on drink.” Jack’s reply – “Well, if I’d kept it, I would have only spent it on drink.””

  41. Xenia says:

    I think today’s world is too difficult for many people:

    1. You need a place to live, but a minimum-wage job won’t pay the rent.
    2. You need transportation, but modern cars are computerized and the days are gone when people can fix an old junker in their front yard. Bus fare is ridiculously high in this town
    3. You need to be able to communicate electronically because many jobs nowadays only have online applications. You can use the library’s computer and good luck with that!
    4. You need to be tech savvy. Not everyone has the capability to interact with a computer. Some aren’t smart enough or some have never had the opportunity to learn.
    5. You need some kind of training or education. College and trade schools are very expensive and where do you live in the meantime? Plus, programs for many professions have a long waiting list. Yes, it would have been a very good thing if you had done better in high school, got all A’s and won a scholarship but that’s water under the bridge now.
    6. You need clean clothing, clean hair and a clean record. All easier said than done when you are homeless.

    Actually, food seems to be the easiest thing to get, with all those dollar-burgers. But I know how bad I feel after too much fast food. I feel queasy and unmotivated.

    I know people who, thank God they are married, because if left on their own they are so incapable of dealing with today’s computerized world that they would starve to death.

    I think some homeless people have just rejected the modern world and opted for the simplicity of begging.

  42. Homeless people are extremely difficult to mainstream once the lifestyle has been engaged.

  43. I don’t know – it may be a cultural thing. My Mexican gardener and his buddies seem to do it. They work together (one truck) and their families live together (roof over their head).

  44. jlo says:

    For three years I spent two nights a week walking the streets of Hollywood, speaking with homeless.

    I can tell you that their reasons for homelessness is as diverse as we all here are.

    And even given every opportunity to come in off the street, it is harder than most of us could imagine.

  45. Steve Wright says:

    India example: Lots of “begging street children” are from normal homes, have their needs met, and are ditching school trying to get money for ice cream or candy.

    Another reality is that some women will burn or maim their own children to make them seem more sympathetic and stand out among the masses that are begging.

    Our friends there do a tremendous work helping people in need, in the name of Jesus Christ. And they have the knowledge to discern in these cases, and do not hesitate to ask direct questions to people who seek their help to get the background – and they can tell when people are lying (as we all usually can).

  46. Xenia says:

    it may be a cultural thing.<<<

    I think it is, MLD. Most American whites are not too keen about working in the ag fields.

  47. Linnea says:

    Chile…great observations, and a social dynamic we don’t often understand. And, a great point about Rx meds and availability….people are smart…they self-medicate.

  48. jlo says:

    Here’s a story about one young man in particular:

    While walking down Hollywood Blvd. we met Captain Jack Sparrow, he was 16 at the time. He had just landed in town from somewhere in the Midwest, he was off duty from working the crowds in front of Grahmans Chinese theater, we spent a good 45 minutes hearing as much of his story as he was willing to tell. We directed him to a shelter/half way house for street kids, at this shelter he was able to come and go as he pleased until midnight curfew and still have a roof over his head and meals. Over the next year we talked with him weekly, encouraged him to learn a trade, so that when he turned 18, and was no longer able to stay at the shelter he would have something to fall back on. One of the conditions of the half way house was that its inhabitants stay sober, and for the most part Jack did. During our weekly talks we learned his street name was Coyote, we learned of the terribly abusive up bring he had, we learned his real name was Michael.

    Once he turned 18, he was turned out of the shelter. Instead of living in a shelter, he was living in a squat. (Abandoned building where the homeless live) He no longer played Jack Sparrow, but chose to play the Beetle Juice character. This fit him better at this time, as his drug use spiraled, and he could get away with it, with a much darker character. Now when we talked with him, it was no longer a productive conversation, but him disagreeing with my husband and leering at me.

    He eventually met a girl who took him in, and he sobered up for a time. He went back to playing Captain Jack Sparrow, but drugs took over again. This time the other street performers had had enough of him and kicked him off Hollywood Blvd, street justice style.

    This was the last we had seen of him, I trust God is looking out for him.

  49. Chile says:

    Good point about why one might have a dog.

    We are seeing so many middle class people who are now homeles. They don’t take their kids to the shelters downtown because they have to split up as a family and may get turned into social services to have their kids taken away.

    These families find other families who are struggling who generously share their home. But it’s hard to live like that its not sustainable. Most of the local Latino families living together are related. Our local schools now have a homeless division to help the kids get to school when they have to move, through gas vouchers. This is one of the richest counties in the USA.

    Hey, MLD, when I’m homeless will you let us move in with you?

  50. Ricky Bobby says:

    I like this article.

    I have come full-circle in my giving. I used to give out of guilt-laden compulsion due to my Calvary Chapel upbringing and indoctrination and dynamic.

    I now give when I want to, when I feel compassion, i give intentionally sometimes when I don’t “feel” something when I see a need, but I make it a disciplined giving b/c I know my neighbor in my community is in need of food and that our local Food Bank is responsible and good stewards and the giving helps people and doesn’t ;pay for an upper-middle class “pastors” ministry vacation or next car or next iphone or gym membership etc.

    I avoid the folks I feel are conning me. I have “felt” like giving to some on the roadside, but it’s purely subjective and it’s usually something in their demeanor or something when I look in their eyes that tells me they aren’t a con…but I’m sure I’ve been wrong many times, but it was given for the right reasons.

    BTW, allegedly, Sharon Ries (Raul’s wife) has liver cancer.

  51. Ricky Bobby says:

    Touch not God’s anointed? I still think it’s mythology…but geez, if any of the others in camp BG start dropping like flies, I’m might start thinking there’s a slim possibility it’s a real dynamic and not just random coincidence. I know if it was my camp, Calvary Chapel guys would be all over it and say “see, God GOT THEM!”

  52. jlo says:

    Back to the subject at hand.

    One couple we met over the years was Belinda and Carl; they said they were disowned by their families due to being an interracial couple. For being homeless they had a pretty sweet spot on Hollywood Blvd, a 5 by 5 concrete space in between two buildings. The first time we met them they asked for money, we declined but offered blankets that we could bring by on our way out of town. They were still there three hours later and we did indeed give them a couple of blankets.

    The next week they told us Belinda was pregnant, and asked again for money, this time we offered warm jackets. This went on for several months without Belinda getting any bigger from her “pregnancy”.

    Then one night Belinda was no longer camped out with Carl, he told us she had been taken in by her family and was now off the streets. Two weeks later she was back, she told us she just felt more comfortable being on the streets.

    The next week as we were walking back to our car there was an accident and police and rescue vehicles were out in full force. As we stopped to observe what was going on, we spotted Carl with his cell phone taking pictures.

  53. Ricky Bobby says:

    BG’s right-hand man, allegedly, has a severe form of hypertension that is life-threatening. It has come on since the lawsuit. Dunno. I’m nearly 100% convinced that Chuck’s cancer one month after calling down God’s judgment from the CCCM pulpit, Sharon Ries’s alleged liver cancer, and BG’s right hand man’s alleged life-threatening hypertension issue is all purely coincidence. I think the CC “Touch not God’s anointed” stuff is pure bunk. I mean, God zapping people? God bringing illness and death on people who claim to be doing something good for God, when it is really evil? That’s not in the bible anywhere…right?

  54. Ricky Bobby says:

    Now, if BG comes down with the cancer or something, yowzers! What a coincidence that would be. I’m sure there

  55. Ricky Bobby says:

    …would be no connection to the lawsuit etc.

  56. Michael says:

    Good stuff, jlo…

  57. jlo says:

    Then there was Lucy. (To be honest I’m not sure of her real name that’s just what I called her)

    Prior to renovations there was a vestibule to an all-night Bank that had a space that was just big enough for a person to curl up in without obstructing the patrons. Lucy was the epitome of what a homeless person looks like. Ragged clothing, wild hair, dirty nails with sores on her hands.

    Every time I would see her I would sit down next to her, place my hand on her shoulder and tell her about my day, or tell her a story, or sing her a song. She would never say anything to me, never in gage in conversation; she would just look at me with watery big blue eyes, which said thank you without words.

    Once renovations started, I never saw Lucy again.

  58. Chile,
    “Hey, MLD, when I’m homeless will you let us move in with you?”

    yes when there is a vacancy – my 35 yr old son, his wife and pit bull just moved in 3 weeks ago. I may have a vacancy in February … can you hold off? 😉

    I take in the homeless – my daughter and her 2 kids moved in for a yr in 2009 and another 6 mos in 2011.

    I knew I should have gotten a small apartment instead of the big house.

  59. Chile says:

    Well good on you, MLD, for taking in the kids. February is too much of a stretch; however, if the need is there we might show up on your front lawn. 😉

  60. Well, I already said i have gardener, so you know it will be well kept. 🙂

  61. jlo says:

    Thanks Michael.

  62. Ricky Bobby says:


    Chuck Smith dies one year to nearly the hour from his calling down God’s judgment from the CCCM pulpit. Sharon Ries gets diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer (according to several facebook pages) one year to the day that BG’s lawsuit was filed…and Raul Ries was on BG’s board and was appealed to and allegedly, according to sources, has been helping advise/assist BG in the controversy and lawsuit.

    So many bizarre coincidences. Wow. You’d think there was some correlation if you were a religious nut. But, no, pure coincidence, when the religious nuts are the ones dropping like flies.

  63. erunner says:

    RB, Please don’t bring Raul’s wife and the friend of your step-dad into this thread. We lost our closest friend two night ago six weeks after she learned she had liver and lung cancer and today we learned our daughter-in-law is carrying a dead baby.

    Life is so precious and to read of it written about as you do at times stings. When you speak of Chuck it has to hurt those who loved him and for anyone who knows Raul’s wife would also feel the sting of your words. Not because of how good Chuck was or Sharon is but because they love(d) them.

    I’m aware of everything written and said about the people within CC circles and much of it saddens me. There are times you put others feelings ahead of yours even when what you believe is true.

  64. jlo says:

    There were a group of kids that used to camp out in front of the Hollywood free clinic; we spent a lot of time with them. We would bring them Bibles, clothing, food, and whatever else they were in need of. Funny thing is not a one of them ever asked us for money. One young man in particular caught our attention, his name was Kenny. When Kenny was taking his meds he was the gentlest soul you could ever meet, in fact we called him a gentle giant. But…. If Kenny was off his meds, watch out, we didn’t hang around on those nights.

    We would bring backpacks full of sack lunches to distribute on our walk. Well one night as we were handing out lunches, one of the clinic kids asked what kind of sandwich we were giving away. (I always packed a PBJ sandwich, chips, cookies and water) When I told him it was PBJ he said that the other group (APU) was giving away turkey sandwiches, I responded if he didn’t want it I would take it back as I was sure someone else could use it. To which he responded, no that’s okay I’ll eat it for breakfast.

    A short time after that the city barred up the area and the clinic kids found somewhere else to stay. Occasionally we would run across one of them, but their little “family” was broken up. We never ran into Kenny again.

  65. When RB is off his meds like this, he is like a drunk in a bar crying about his life. Even on a thread about homeless people, he is self centered and can only think of himself.

  66. jlo says:

    erunner, so sorry for the loss(s) you are experiencing. Praying.

  67. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, the Lord warned, “Touch not my anointed, do my prophet no harm”. I believe you are trying to harm the work of the Lord. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. 😉

  68. jlo says:

    MLD, don’t feed the bear.

  69. Muff Potter says:

    Ricky Bobby or anyone. I think (and so did the writer of Ecclesiastes) that life in this world is one big roulette wheel with no rhyme or reason. It deals out fortune and misfortune to the good, the bad, and the ugly alike.

  70. Ricky Bobby says:

    Back on topic, sorry for the spirit-filled rantings. Hard to quench the spirit sometimes. I’ll try to ignore it and stay on topic.

    I think Michael touched on a true dynamic here: “extra credit for good work”

    I call it the Quid Pro Quo Gospel of Selective Fundamentalism.

    Do good stuff for God (or what you and your sect’s gurus tell you is the good stuff) and God gives you the cookies. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it is certainly a prevalent belief in Selective Fundamentalism.

  71. Ricky Bobby says:

    Muff, agreed. There is no correlation or consistency…though there is truth to Reaping and Sowing principle.

    We actually see this dynamic in Homelessness. Much of homelessness is Reaping and Sowing principle…much is random chance due to inherited set of disorders either addictive personality or underlying psychological disorders etc.

    Some is random bad circumstances in finances and health, some is Causal due to poor health choices and poor financial decisions.

  72. jlo says:

    Then there was Ronald.

    One Wednesday night it was just my husband and I. We saw Ronald approaching and my husband said he was homeless and wanted to talk with him. I thought he was nuts as Ronald looked like anyone you would see in daily life, clean cut, well groomed, clean clothing, just out for an evening stroll. He was startled as we greeted him and started a conversation, it quickly became apparent that Ronald was not comfortable with me there, so I left and went into the convenience store to purchase water.

    They must have talked for 45 minutes before my husband came to get me. It turns out Ronald was indeed homeless, but newly so. He didn’t know what to do, or who to turn to. He also refused any of the resources that we had. Though he was homeless, he still had too much pride to seek assistance.

  73. erunner says:

    jlo, Thank you. Our son just called with what could be good news. I updated in the prayer thread.

  74. Muff Potter says:

    Ricky Bobby,
    Some call it Karma, others say ‘what goes around comes around’, the law of reciprocity, or the law of sowing and reaping, I believe this to be true also.

  75. jlo says:

    We used to go to Hollywood on Wednesday and Friday nights. Fridays we could have groups of up to 30 people, depending on how much our mega-pastor pumped up our witnessing walks. I preferred Wednesday, just because it tended to be the faithful, instead of the emotional.

    One particular Wednesday there were three of us, my husband, myself, and faithful Abel.

    As we were walking, we passed a pile of rags on the sidewalk, my husband and I thought nothing of it. Abel stopped and went over to that pile of rags and left a sack lunch in the name of Jesus Christ. As we turned to walk on, that sack lunch was hurled at Abels head. Abel took the sack lunch back to the pile of rags, placed it by his side, and said nothing. The lunch once again game hurling toward us, for the third time Abel walked it back and left it besides the pile of rags.

    We continued on our walk, talking with many people.

    On our way back, almost to our car, we once again saw the pile of rags. This time across the street, laying in front of the pumps at a busy gas station, I mean right where you would pull your car up to pump gas, was that pile of rags. At Abels urging we crossed the street, he placed a trash can in front of that pile of rags, so that no one would run it over. That pile of rags got up and moved the trash can back in place. Abel again moved the trash can; again the pile of rags moved it back.

    Abel came back to us, distraught, not knowing what to do. I told him, there is only one thing you can do, cast out that demon through prayer. Bless his heart he really tried. But it wasn’t his demon to cast out. It was mine. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t do as I was being led, I didn’t take the lead as I was supposed to. I still to this day pray for that pile of rags.

  76. Chile says:

    Jlo, wow…

  77. Chile says:

    I’ve learned a few things today. Thanks.

  78. jlo says:

    I hope you all have seen the point I am trying to make, the homeless are as diverse as any group, and there in no one way to handle them. They are to be treated as individuals and not as a sub-group.

    One last story before the night is done.

    This is the story of Pedro.

    On Friday nights we would hold a bible study prior to our walk. Pedro’s camp was just a bit away from our outdoor venue, he would watch as we all gathered. One night as groups dispersed for the walk down Hollywood Blvd. he called my husband and I over.

    As we went over to talk with him, we heard the leaves crunching beneath our shoes. We talked with him a good while, we told him what we were doing, what was being taught, we gave him the Gospel, invited him to join us. He told us perhaps another time. As we turned to leave, we once again heard the crunching of leaves beneath our feet, only this time we looked down as we walked, it wasn’t leaves we heard crunching, but roaches beneath our feet. The roaches that Pedro lived with nightly, the reality of his life.

    Pedro, continued to watch our meetings, moving a bit closer each time.

    We were heart broken when the owner of our venue sold the property, and we could no longer gather there.

    We found an alternate place, a coffee shop that had outdoor seating. The owner would allow us to hold our studies provided that we purchased something. To our surprise Pedro would come and stand on the fringe in order to hear the Word. My husband finally convinced Pedro to join us at the tables, providing him with a coffee so that he wouldn’t feel an outcast. We did this for several months, we would purchase an extra coffee and Pedro would sit next to my husband as he taught.

    One night Pedro got there early, he was sitting at the table with two coffee’s before him.

    He said, Pastor, tonight the coffee is on me, he was beaming with pride that he was able to provide for another. That night after the study Pedro, told us how he had accepted Christ as his Savior and was ready to start serving the Lord. We got Pedro into a halfway house with another group we partnered with, he lived by the house rules, which for the homeless is not easy. After living on the streets and living with no rules, any rule is had to live with, and most halfway houses have strict rules of conduct. But Pedro was ready.

    The last we heard Pedro has become a productive member of society, and reaches out to the homeless on a daily basis.

  79. Dave Sloane says:

    Have not read any of the above post only the topical post of Michael. So keep that in mind…

    A real sign that delineates that which is would say:

    “I am willing to debase myself for dollars so I can make upwards of $80.000 a year tax free.”

    At least that is what a Sunday night program,”sixty miniutes,” investigation show found out about most of those people on street corners with signs. Better to give where you KNOW it will help not where you THINK it will help. Be a good steward over every dollar entrusted into your care.

    Give to your local soup kitchen or your local free clinic not possibly to your local scammer…

    I and my wife saw an expensive brand new BMW park in a far corner of a Home Depot and watched as five young people dressed as homeless people got out and opened up the trunk where their signs were. They all then walked out to all of the corners of a nearby major intersection to beg for free cash from an unsuspecting public..

    So as we were driving by them I called out loudly to them, “Nice BMW!” You could see the guilt in their eyes as we drove past them.Obvious scammers.

    I am willing to guess that most of the people who are duped by them are Christian. Gullible people by nature or not very discerning?

    But on the other hand are we willing to give to the 9 scammers just to reach the one person who truly has need?

    I don’t know about you but in this current financial climate I can’t afford to give to make someone’s BMW payments.

    Better to give to those who truly beyond a certainty help the homeless, your local soup kitchen or free clinic. Better to help the many then the few, don’t you think?

    “Hey buddy you can get a free warm shower and fresh clothes and a meal along with dental care and medical care a few blocks away. Come on I will even take you there.”

    Ahh…no thanks…Can’t you just spare a few bucks?

  80. Jim says:

    Some of our local homeless people live near a huge soup kitchen inland, but most live on or in the woods near the beach. The beach guys don’t panhandle, but have money for booze. I have no idea where their money comes from.They hang out at the beach all day drinking and bothering young girls, then sleep on the beach in the few places they can get away with it, or in the woods nearby. It’s an odd phenomenon. So different from urban homeless groups. When I’ve encountered them while walking with my wife, I haven’t been polite. It’s similar to running into a pack of coyotes in the desert.

    I have great compassion for the poor and homeless, but this crowd has an air of danger about them that is unique.

  81. Steve Wright says:

    Just read this the other day.
    Beggars who claim to be veterans tend to hit me up quite a bit, especially when I’m in uniform . . . Over the years, I developed a simple way to determine whether they are telling the truth — I simply ask for their MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty.

    Every Soldier or Marine has one. (Airmen have something similar, an AFSC; Naval personnel have “ratings.”) By the time you finish Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, this code is as much a part of you as your fingernails. It’s embedded in your DNA.

    Out of literally hundreds of beggars who have claimed to be vets, in order to pry money from me, only three knew what my question meant and had an answer. Two of them were former Marines. One of these was a drunk who used to crash out on my lawn; the other was booted out for disciplinary reasons, probably drugs.

    The third guy was Army, an actual Vietnam vet who produced a tattered DD 214 (which is the document for all military discharges). I tried to get him a job, but he never showed up for the interview.

  82. brian says:

    Alot of times I do something kind for who ever, homeless, poor, person with a disability, hold the door for someone, stop for broken down folks I do that all the time. I get this “feeling” of joy and like I touched the face of Jesus. That lasts for about two to 10 seconds then I castigate myself for a while for being weak, manipulative, just wanting attention, evil motives, seeking attention, etc. It is hard to be filled with joy and thinking (in part of my soul) that doing so is of Satan.

    On the giving part I am spotted a great distance away by the folks seeking money, I have (STUPID) stamped on my forehead. I knew people (2) who were professional panhandlers and did make about as much as I did at the time (think mid 80’s to early 90’s), no benefits but they put in about a six hour day and made bank, they manipulated the system just enough to stay within the lines, they were not even homeless but did crash at many different places. it was rather sad in a way. But they had no guilt whatsoever, they were even proud of how they could turn a buck. I envied them that in a way. Clarification the total take was as much as I made about 40K a year included their state, and federal benefits and panhandling all put together. I cant say what they told me was super accurate but it seemed like they made that type of money.

    Now a story if I might. I lived in a ministry house some time ago, it was like heaven to me, and hell in some ways. There was this man walking down the street and he appeared to be homeless and a bit lost, so I went across the street to talk to him. He eventually confirmed that he was a homeless person, who was trying to get downtown to the shelter before night fall and get a bed. He was looking for a bus and needed money. It hit me, back when I thought my insights were from the Holy Spirit. Well I thought get the bike. I told the man wait here and ran back across the street got a new bike I had bought and gave it to him. His eyes got real big. I said something to the effect that now you dont have to wait for the bus. He said for real, I said Im not going to use it. He rode off smiling. A few months I caught a view of the same man nicer clothes, a backpack and a rack on the back of the bike. He was stacked up with recyclables heading to the recycle place. It appeared he had that same smile. Granted memories can be tricky things so I am trying to be as accurate as possible.

  83. brian says:

    ” he still had too much pride to seek assistance.”

    I cant speak for Ronald but it is not pride in my case to not seek assistance it is sheer terror of crossing that line, that keeps moving by the second. It is mind numbing at times.

  84. Chile says:

    Brian, I know exactly what you mean. One can be castigated for not asking for help and be castigated for asking for help. It can be the same issue and the same person; the rules change, the measuring stick shifts.

    I know cause I’ve done this to others. It’s often subtle. I’ve also experienced it which aids in the learning process.

    There is a measure of truth in the notion that one can have too much pride to ask for help, but it’s beyond us to see all the issues involved.

  85. Scott says:

    We support our local gospel mission and salvation army. Those two outreaches in our community are excellent at what they do and I figure if one of the panhandlers are really hungry as most of their signs say, they know where both of these places are.

  86. Jim, that was a good article.

  87. Xenia says:

    One thing is certain: bring up homeless people (or welfare recipients) on a Christian blog and out will come the reasons why you should not help them because they are scammers and crooks.

  88. Steve Wright says:

    Xenia, Looks like everyone who has commented just about has mentioned their personal giving to the poor. Which poster here does not give to those in need?

    I think stewardship is a pretty Christian idea, unless someone has unlimited money.

    And the only one with unlimited money I know is the one who can print their own – which is why they also are the least caring about stewardship and actually HELPING people.

  89. Gary says:

    This thread leaves me very frustrated. No matter what I do it could hurt someone. Bummer. I’m heartened though by the testimonies and excited by how some of you are loving people.

  90. PP Vet says:

    Spent some time recently with someone from one of wealthiest, most philanthropic families in the history of the planet. What have they learned over about 100 years of trying?

    “It is very, very difficult to give away money without doing more harm than good.”

  91. London says:

    Tell them to call me. We can figure out a way to make it work 🙂

  92. Cindy says:

    Love it London! 🙂

  93. PP Vet says:

    L, you could get in touch with them:

  94. j2theperson says:

    ***One thing is certain: bring up homeless people (or welfare recipients) on a Christian blog and out will come the reasons why you should not help them because they are scammers and crooks.***

    As Steve said, pretty much everyone who has commented has mentioned personally giving money or providing assistance to the poor. I think what you’re seeing is not people arguing to never give, but simply people who recognize the reality that there are many issues that come into play when you try to help the extremely poor and homeless. It’s not an easy issue to solve, as evidenced by the fact that homelessness and extreme poverty still exist despite many years of people, organizations, and governments trying to end it.

  95. PP Vet says:

    The point is, if you are going to give away money, make sure it’s good for you, because there is no telling whether it is going to be good for the other person.

  96. PP Vet says:

    Or rather, no telling whether it will be good overall in the long run for humanity and the Kingdom. So be Spirit-led if possible.

  97. Steve Wright says:

    no telling whether it will be good overall in the long run for humanity and the Kingdom. So be Spirit-led if possible.
    PP Vet touches on a point I did not want to mention on this forum, because I figure for sure it would be misinterpreted and/or I would present it in a clumsy fashion because of prior political and theological discussion.

    I’ve prayed and talked with grieving parents whose young adult children are out on the street. These youth know the Lord, know their parents love them unconditionally, but after years and years of enabling, multiple attempts with rehab, finally, as a true last straw – they feel they have to kick them out (often due to their bad influence on other children or grandchildren still in the home, or stealing money etc). These youth know that if they repent, like the prodigal, they will be welcomed back with open arms by parents who do love them and believe that to continue to enable is to actually hasten their kid’s death..

    Their hope is the Lord will get through to them out on the street – and they will get sick and tired of being sick and tired and come home. They pray that nobody out there enables them further so they can hit rock bottom and look up to the Lord…and come home.

    And the reality is, everyone who helps these kids as they beg is delaying the work God might be working.

    So I’m with PP Vet about being led by the Spirit. I have no idea why in some circumstances I have a deep desire to make sure I help some guy I see out there, and other times I am not similarly stirred. I hate to blame my sins on God’s Spirit, but I hope at least that in asking God to lead my path each day, that BOTH those tugs to help and to not help are actually from His Spirit as He knows every detail of every circumstance.

  98. Xenia says:

    … everyone who helps these kids as they beg is delaying the work God might be working.<<<

    Or it might just be the act of kindness that brings them to repentance.

  99. Xenia says:

    Being as I don’t know everyone’s situation, and the possibility of a “for the grace of God go I’ situation, and since it’s a sin in the Orthodox church to show disdain for a poor person (and since I am not going to give everyone on the street a questionnaire or lie detector test to see it they qualify for my definition of “poor”) I will continue to give out dollars, as the Spirit leads, avoiding obvious crooks.

  100. jlo says:

    How do you tell the crooks, from those that truly have a need? Spend time talking with them. More often than not, that is what they really want.

  101. jlo says:

    The Chronic homeless are very difficult to reach or help. They have grown comfortable in their no rules lifestyle. While they might enjoy the comfort of indoor living, the rules of society that come with it, are too difficult for them to sustain for more than short periods of time.

  102. jlo says:

    My question to the house is this:

    How do we help the newly homeless? those that have not reached the chronic stage.

  103. London says:

    Super rich people don’t help small organizations like ours. Kinda like churches in that respect 😉

  104. London says:

    “And the reality is, everyone who helps these kids as they beg is delaying the work God might be working.”

    Or it might be keeping them alive long enough for them to come to their senses.

    How in the world to you know what is the “work of God” in a person’s life anyway? Maybe because I’m female, and even though I don’t have any kids, I can’t stand the thought of some young person out there hungry or in need and someone passing them by when they beg because it “is delaying the work God may be doing”.

    What if the work God is doing is teaching them that all they have to do is ask and they will receive?

  105. jlo says:

    London, the super rich(whatever that is) and the mega church, have no idea how to help with immediate needs. They are too busy thinking it through to help with the here and now.

  106. gomergirl says:

    I know I am late coming to the party, but here is my thoughts.
    I live in a city with a HUGE homeless population. Many are hateful and mean when you don’t give. That makes me not feel bad to help them. I take dog biscuits with me to give the dogs. They don’t choose to live on the streets. But I give as I feel moved. Some times I am feeling it, sometimes not. It just is.
    That aside, I truly believe that the act of giving is not for the other person, but for us. It is our heart that God looks at, our motives, our intent. Just like forgiveness, It really is of no consequence what the other person does with the gift (in the context of our part of it). Their deal with God is their heart and their issue and does not have anything to do with me. That is what I think about a lot of our issues in the church.
    Forgiveness is the same. It has nothing to do with the other person. We are to forgive, not conditionally, not if the other person is sorry. It is not their issue. It is my issue. It is my heart condition. The other person has to deal with their own issues and their deal with God.

  107. London says:

    The “super rich” are the people that PPVet claimed to be hanging out with but I think he was maybe just at a seminar 😉

    I’ll pass on the conversation about churches.

  108. jlo says:

    Obviously this a hot button issue for me. I have great compassion for all classes of homeless. When you talk with them they are diverse, and no two stories are alike, yet they seem to have a common thread.

    More often than not they are misfits of society, those that don’t or won’t conform to the norm.

    Yet they all started out in what would be considered a tradition home.

  109. jlo says:

    London, I hear ya on the church conversation. 😉

  110. Scott says:

    I often wonder why the Christians who exhort other Christians to be more pro-active (using themselves as examples) in giving money to street people, don’t just take it to the next level and invite some homeless people to come and stay in their own homes with them? You know, really demonstrate their Christian piety.

  111. jlo says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time with the homeless, and I can tell you this, while they want our money, they despise those that give out of Christian duty only.

    Our duties as a Christian is to help the poor among us, but that may or may not mean a monetary contribution. More than anything they want to be noticed.

    Instead of giving a dollar or two, or buying them a meal, invite them to share a meal with you. Stop the busyness of your day, offer to share a meal with them at whatever restaurant will accommodate them. You would be surprised what establishments won’t say a thing when you are paying and are as cordial as can be. But please don’t pepper them with a thousand questions as to how they ended up homeless, let that story unfold in a natural manner. They will tell you their story as they grow more comfortable with you.

  112. London says:

    I’ve known two kids I went to school with that ended up being homeless.
    One who was my brother’s age who ended up in a wealthy home after his folks divorced or his dad died (can’t remember) but he really struggled with his identity afterwards because he had been a “normal” kid for years, then suddenly had money and lived in a place that the “snooty, rich” people lived…he couldn’t find himself.
    He ended up messing around with drugs, got hooked, his folks tried their best to help him, but he ended up on the street.
    Last time I saw him, was years ago, as he was standing on a street corner panhandling.

    The other, was a guy in High School that was in my US History class. He was a transfer student and football player. He was a normal kid. Smart, nice, and just like any other guy I knew there.
    I saw him once when I was working for the city and he was out walking the streets. I invited him in for lunch at the city cafeteria. Was kind fun to see all the odd looks I got!
    He was killed recently by some bastard cops in Saginaw, MI who killed him in cold blood. It was enough to get a federal investigation, but of course, not enough to get justice.

    I was grateful last year to be able to attend the Homeless Memorial service here in Albuquerque and speak his name aloud during the roll call of those who had passed away on the streets that year.

    It felt like the least I could do so he wasn’t forgotten.

  113. London says:

    How do you know they haven’t Scott?

  114. jlo says:

    Scott, while I don’t always give money, but sometime I do, the reason I don’t invite the homeless into my home is safety concerns.

    Desperate people do desperate things. And many of the chronic homeless are dealing with mental disorders that make it even more difficult. Take my story of Kenny as an example, while he was on his meds he was a gentle as a lamb, when he was off his meds, he could be extremely violent.

    But that said, thus my earlier question about how we help the newly homeless. I want to “catch” them prior to them becoming Chronic homeless.

  115. Steve Wright says:

    I guess to some when I write about “being led by the Holy Spirit” it is meaningless Christian-eze rather than the source and direction of our very lives and souls.

    Do you guys give to EVERYONE you meet? Do you EVER pass anyone by? Do you stop and talk to EVERY person on the street?

    If not, why?

    I guess there are some pockets in this country with almost no homeless and maybe that is possible – seeing a homeless person is like seeing a deer or something. Quick take a picture to show everyone at home!

    but it sure isn’t in our town – or most towns. it is an incredible problem with no easy solution but it sure would be nice to at least discuss the issues given our sharing the common faith.

    Thanks to jlo for her sharing her experiences.

  116. London says:

    Who is that directed to Steve?

  117. Steve Wright says:

    I also think it is significant that jlo is describing what was/is an active ministry to homeless people. Dedicating a block of time to share and minister.

    Not simply the issue that most of us face as we are running from one appointment to another during the day.

  118. Steve Wright says:

    London, I’ll repeat what I wrote earlier. I was trying to be vulnerable and honest. I’ll readily admit neither our church nor me personally gives to EVERY person we see out there – because there are just too many in our town to possibly help with our financial limitations.

    But we do give…and give sacrificially. (i.e. there are things we can’t afford to do that we would like to do because of these commitments)

    I wrote…..

    So I’m with PP Vet about being led by the Spirit. I have no idea why in some circumstances I have a deep desire to make sure I help some guy I see out there, and other times I am not similarly stirred. I hate to blame my sins on God’s Spirit, but I hope at least that in asking God to lead my path each day, that BOTH those tugs to help and to not help are actually from His Spirit as He knows every detail of every circumstance.

    I think that answers the question posed….I DON’T know…

  119. London says:

    Ok. You said “you guys” so I thought you meant someone specific

  120. Gary says:

    Are you serious? I ask because I know a homeless person. I’ve considered bringing him into my home.

  121. jlo says:

    Gary, I think the bigger question is why not? I ask with an open heart, as I deal with this myself.

  122. jlo says:

    I think we really need to differentiate between chronic and newly homeless.

    They are two separate issue’s.

  123. jlo says:

    I’m going to get really personal here for a moment. My eldest step daughter became almost homeless for a season. She and I had a falling out as she reached adulthood, it could have been overcome with a simple conversation, instead she refused to talk it out, and refused to come to our home. Being 18 at the time she chose to stay at her mom’s house 24/7.

    About two weeks later her and her mom had a falling out and her mom basically kicker her out of her home. She ended up staying with a family friend, who gave very strict guide lines to follow in order for her to stay there. What she refused to do in our homes, she was suddenly willing to do at the family friends home.

    I thank God for this woman, as she provided a safe place for my daughter, and helped her in that difficult transition from child to independent woman. I am happy to say that all relationships were healed and my daughter has become a productive member of society.

    I shudder to think what might have happened had she not had a place to stay.

  124. A little side note here.
    Don’t forget the poor in other countries.
    Here is a really good way of helping them, which I first heard about on a radio program with K.P. Yohannon.

    This s a gift that keeps on giving long after you have given it.

  125. Dave Sloane says:

    In my town, Costa Mesa CA, a block away from where I live, there is a place called SOS (Called:Save Our Selves) where anyone can come and get a hot meal and get connected with various med services, all for free. As a result we have a tremendous amount of homeless all over the place.

    Nearby Irvine, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach give a lot to “SOS” because it keeps the homeless in my city and away from theirs.

    Public drinking and urinating along with sleeping in bushes and on bus benches is common. We have quite a few liquor stores within walking distance to SOS, some of the homeless can always be seen hanging around them.

    The police are fantastic, they don’t harass them much, they try to stir them in good directions, places that can help them. They go out of their way to actually get to know them and their ‘stories’ so that they can form up a plan of action to aid them and not just
    monitor them. A lot of the homeless have been reconnected with their families because of the police efforts.

    There is one small nearby church that provides showers and a place to sleep for the cost of sitting through just one Bible study per stay. That church is very proactive in helping the homeless.

    One store around the corner gives them respectable clothing so they can go out on job interviews. My wife donates clothing there.

    I have talked with the homeless and I can honestly say that a large percentage of them want to live homeless. It has no responsibilities and no bills or taxes. There are some with hugh tax problems and or back child support issues. So they just checked out of society.

    One fellow admitted to me that he liked getting stuff for free and having no one to answer to. He pointed out people driving by in their cars and said that he was more free then they were with their none ending repetitive struggles to stay above water with all of the bills and rent that goes with having a place to sleep.

    So my son and I gave him a job, he worked hard but his demeanor was a turn off for my customers, they could feel his resentment of them. Even though he was earning a living he still retained an attitude of being homeless. Every job he was on there were some issues with customer reactions.

    We had to eventually let him go before we went broke from loss of customers.

    One of my Christian customers sold a big business that he had built and suddenly came into a 50 million dollar nest egg as a result. He tried to help out others directly as someone with resources is able to do. He soon had to stop how he was doing it because no one actually used the money to take care of them selves, they just burned through it and ended right back where they started.

    He came to the conclusion that it was better long term to give to those who are geared to help others. And that is what he does now.

    My wife and I have helped out a few people. And now every single person we have tried to help comes at us with their stories and subtle hints that are designed to tap us one more time. We did not give out of our abundance.

    It is a fine line helping out others. While I am not ‘Pollyanna’ in my giving like some, I do try and keep an open ear to the Holy Spirit.

    When my son was 9 I gave him a small Bible and a twenty dollar bill. I told him to go over to the homeless guy on the curb and watch the man light up as he gives him the
    Bible and the money.

    Sure enough the man looked up at my son and grinned a wonderful smile as he received the gifts from a young boy. That day my son began to learn how rewarding it can be to help out others in need.

    But he now realizes there are just some better things that will go a long way to help over the long haul then to finance the next liquor store run of an individual.

    The homeless guy told me some stuff. You know the woman with the kid and the pillow under her shirt? She takes in more in a day then the ones without the kid and the fake pregnancy.

    And the guys with the pets do really well also.

    Some of them use props like crutches.

    And you know why they always say “God Bless You” when you give them a few bucks? Because it is mostly Christians who are doing the giving…

    I always give to the guys in wheel chairs with no legs or just one leg…you know they have got to be legit.

    Or sometimes I will give to the obvious scammer type, preaching the gospel message to them.

    Steve Wright is right!

    Money in my yard comes out of my wallet and not from my trees. So I have no choice but to be wise and discerning as to where it go’s and to whom.

    When Jesus healed the lame man near the pool He did not heal any of the other multitude that were gathered around there, just the lame man who had no one to dip him in the waters when the angel stirred them.

    “Take up thy bed and walk.,” said Jesus.

    John Chapter 5

    2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

    3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

    4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

    5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

    6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

    7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

    8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

    9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

    We have no record of anyone else healed that moment but one man.

    Even though there be a great multitude of homeless people we can’t help everyone but we can help some…

  126. Dave Sloane says:

    Correction…there have been a few who we gave to that did not try to tap us for more…in fact one fellow gave what we gave him to others…we were humbled greatly by what he did when he himself had need. He truly gaave out of his own neediness.

  127. jlo says:

    David, and that is why the chronic homeless are so difficult to help.

  128. jlo says:

    and why I want to reach them prior to that point.

  129. Scott says:

    London, I don’t know. Would it make any difference if I said I have? My own brother and a sister were both homeless at one point and we took them into our home at different times. They both stole from us and because of their addictions to heroin could not assimilate and split, going right back onto the streets.

    My sister died of an overdose shortly thereafter and my brother spent years roaming the streets until he got into a methodone program. After which my mother took him in and he lived with her for several years until he died last year at 58.

    How about anyone else here. Have any of you taken in any homeless street people? If so, how did it go?

  130. Gary says:


  131. Gary says:

    I would like to burn through some money.

  132. Steve Wright says:


    I’m not ignoring your question about the newly homeless. Those who are newly homeless because of their addictions or mental illnesses need help the same as those who have addictions and mental illnesses that have been on the streets for a long time. Of course, the longer left untreated, the harder the road to recovery is – but the answer is the same.

    But I assume you were asking about those newly homeless for other reasons, like losing their home to foreclosure (or often the landlord has lost the home and the tenant suffers), job loss and can’t pay the rent, or maybe women fleeing abusive men – in other words, people who are not ill, and people who do not want to stay on the streets by choice.

    Is that your question? About helping people in those situations?

  133. jlo says:

    Yes, Steve that is my question. I think a portion of the homeless start out by circumstance. Which can quickly spiral into drug and alcohol abuse compounding the problem, in trying to cope with their homelessness.

    How do we reach that group, prior to them becoming chronic.

  134. jlo says:

    Scott, I had forgotten that you shared on PxP about your brother. Forgive me; I know this is a real subject for you and not an academic discussion.

    Though I have had much interaction with the homeless, my one up close and personal experience was mild, compared to someone who had a family member spiral into it.

  135. Steve Wright says:

    jlo, I don’t have much of an answer except for this. I know with absolute certainty that whatever the answer is will lie locally in the community – and my guess is that since communities are different, there is no one-size-fits-all.

    All of you have shared personal stories about providing tangible help, some great life-changing help, some small, and I don’t recall one of you using federal tax dollars.In fact, most of you probably did not even get a deduction for whatever money you spent or help you provided. This week we too helped someone who was one day from being newly homeless. One person, one week, one little church. Next week there may be someone else. Someone we had relationship with, as we try to have with many in the community.

    I’ve spent awhile tonight reading articles googled with “newly homeless” and one thing I keep reading is how Washington D.C cuts in HUD or other spending somehow leads to homelessness in a given city in a given state. The spin is just give us MORE federal tax dollars to solve the problem despite decades of evidence to the contrary

    But this federal meddling can’t possibly go on without the problem continuing. Local governments are the answer, in my opinion at the County level, not just city since some cities are rich and some poor in most counties (plus sometimes cops just move homeless people out of the rich towns to the poor towns). It also eliminates the problem of certain richer areas seeking independence from a larger poorer city through their own city incorporations. A county keeps it local, but levels things a little too.

    There are multiple things that the businesses in any given county could do to help, but it starts with them getting to keep the money they send to Washington D.C.

    Would you rather see Walmart pay a few Billion to the D.C. beast or be taxed by location by county to fund the needs of the communities in which they reside – a few Million at a time.

    Despite my press clippings, I am a big believer in a tax-supported safety net and for tax dollars to stay local and help people locally. And there is more accountability, and as more volunteer efforts arise, the local taxes could be lowered, attracting even more businesses and residents and a positive cycle of growth would replace the current cycle of economic depression and blight.

    Every great story I hear about a community making a new park for the kids, or a vegetable garden out of an abandoned lot – they are LOCAL stories. And while on occasion there may be some pennies that come from D.C. out of their benevolence, that is chump change from what they take out of the community first.

  136. jlo says:

    Steve, good stuff, but I think it is more grass roots than that.

    Forget about the government and their programs. I mean can we really trust them? I say not at this point.

    It is up to us to take in the newly homeless. It is up to us to care for them.

    I am looking for a safe way to bring them into my home. I am looking for practical answers.

    I’m tired of the government trying to cure society’s ills. I want to cure them with the love that I have received, the love that I want to pay forward. Yet I want to move forward with wisdom.

    I don’t have the answers, just a lot of questions. I’ve spent enough time on the streets to know the problems, today I am looking for solutions.

  137. PP Vet says:

    I often took people in – but that was always in the context of their place in the local church.

    If some person showed evidence of repentance and a heart for God and a willingness to live within the constraints of the accountability within a local church community, like the “good” widows Paul mentions, my house was there for them, and I do not remember ever having a bad result.

    Many are called out of lives of homelessness and despair, and some of them do in fact see their lives wonderfully restored. Others who do not see much of heaven formed within them in this life nevertheless hopefully find Heaven in all its fullness in the next.

  138. Steve Wright says:

    I’m tired of the government trying to cure society’s ills
    I understand. The thing is they are having a large hand in causing the problem. Hard to fix anything that just keeps getting bigger thanks to D.C.

    My point on local government though is that these are your neighbors. People on the city councils attend local churches, shop in the local businesses. Live next to you.

    I don’t think of Target as some huge mega-corp – but I think of it as the store in my neighborhood where several people from my church work, and many others that don’t I still know because I see them when I shop. Much like people don’t think of some huge international denomination but the particular Lutheran, Orthodox, Catholic, or whatever church in the area.

    And the homeless are our neighbors too. Like your stories share seeing the same people, so it is in many towns. I was in Bangalore India with a pop of 9-10 million and I still saw the same people near our hotel day to day.

    So it’s not about looking to government to solve problems, it’s about keeping the resources of the community in the community to build much-needed mental health wards, rehab centers, shelters and so forth. Plus the resources to help with job training, and even the simplicity of a shower and fresh set of clothes before going on a job interview.

    It would also involve removing the various building restrictions that are anything but local. So if a church wanted to build a shelter and the local government council had no problem with it – the Sacramento bureaucrats and the Washington feds could just go pound sand.

    Taken from that perspective (the perspective of our founding fathers I would add) government is not a dirty word. Neither is “big business”

    That’s how this nation used to work too.

  139. Got some time here, so I am going to tap away on this keyboard a bit…

    Here in Costa Mesa CA our parks are full of homeless and a few illegal immigrants. The locals don’t use the parks much any more. When I was a kid growing up here things were not like this. We kids could play in the park with other local kids.

    The only local none homeless use today is largely by our kids soccer teams.

    Driving by the parks today you see homeless with the stuff they tend to gather, shopping carts full of stuff etc. They sleep there during the daylight hours because I am told it is not safe to sleep at night where one could get mugged or otherwise harmed.

    The police are usually around during the day, 3 or 4, can be seen interacting with the homeless.

    There are a couple of Viet Nam vets who have tree trimming business who take full advantage of the cheap labor pool of the homeless. I see these guys hanging out with the homeless in the parks. They are actually a great source of insider info on homeless people because they know the guys and have won their acceptance. The homeless open up to them.

    One thing that seems to be prevalent among the homeless is alcohol and drug use.

    There is another level of homeless here, the motel resident. Several homeless will rent a room collectively and do what ever it takes to pool their resources to have a roof over their heads and a base of operations so to speak.

    Some tell me they survive by collecting plastic bottles and aluminum cans along with redeemable bottles. Others steal bicycles and what ever they can sell.

    Others take jobs at phone banks that sell stuff over the phone. You know, those solicitation calls we all love.

    The motel dwellers are more resourceful then the street dwellers and know each other and the history of a lot of the street people.

    I was totally amazed at some of the stories they have told to me. Educated people and once wealthy people. One fellow was an Italian hit man on the run, from New York city, who fell out of favor with whomever.

    Some of the motel rooms get stuffed with trash floor to ceiling. The city tries to eliminate this by requiring residents to move out every so often. The residents just check out and back in to another room. The city has tried to raise “Bed taxes” on the hotel/motel around the city.

    Recently the city council has explored billing the hotel/motels for services such as emergency fire/police because they get called disproportionately by them. The hotel/motel will get no charge service per a certain period and excess beyond will be billed.

    We have a lot of places that are very problematic that the city wants to eliminate.

    There are many drug and alcohol rehab places here. Also the minimum security ankle bracelet detention homes. Opportunistic types run these for profit homes here.

    Our city is the only city in America with 60% rental units. Developers from nearby Newport Beach have had freehand in Costa Mesa over the last 60 years. They had control of the Costa Mesa city council with the good ole boy syndrome that favors developers.

    They built cheap apartments and filled them with “Section 8” people where the gov pays 80% of the rent of the tenants. Most of them don’t speak english and have a lot of children payed for through generous gov programs . We have major gang problems in these same areas.

    One old fellow, Frank (Not his real name), used to drink coffee with me in the mornings. He admitted to me that the city was very corrupt during his day. When I was a kid sitting cross legged on the floor reading comic books at “Pink’s Drugs,” Frank and the good ole boys were in the back room playing cards and running a bookie operation. At least that is what he claimed.

    Frank said everyone was on the take in his day. He did say that things are different today and that the corruption has tapered down with time.

    But look what we are left with today.

    On the upside, we are on the edge of Newport Beach and one of the last affordable areas that get ocean breezes. The builders are starting to build custom homes here and and there are street improvements being talked about for my side of town. The seedy low life side.

    During the run up to the housing bubble a lot of people who really could not afford home ownership got homes with the cheap easy to get loans. Then when the bubble popped there were a lot of foreclosures.

    My wife and I explored many of them and were shocked at the destruction of these homes on the inside. People abused the homes and did strange and weird stuff to them. Garages partitioned into small rooms, a front door entryway coat closet where someone had dug down into the sewer and installed a toilet. Three kitchens and many small partitioned rooms.

    It was a cultural thing. I was told that even hallway space was rented out to people to sleep in at night. Chairs were rented out to sleep on etc…

    My wife and I live in a house that once was full of people before we took it over. The garage had been turned into two small bedrooms.

    My city is not alone with these things. The same scenario plays out in many nearby cities.

    Upscale Irvine and a few other cities are respectable and don’t have these problems. One Costa Mesa police detective once told me that some of those cities actually drive their homeless to my city in police vehicles and drop them off at night telling them to not come back or else.

    Ya America can not cure these problems with government. Middle America is dissipating fast under the weight of these growing problems.

    We do have a lot of incredible people here who are working one on one to help the homeless. The city has done many things to help. Some progress has been forged and we are a model for other cities as to how to address these problems.

    There are some awesome ministries here that do a lot of unseen and unknown good for others in need. Every now and then a story surfaces of the wonderful things that they have done for others.

    One local man, found wandering the street, was a diabetic who was upside down financially. A local church took him to a doctor and got him on medication, payed all his bills and back rent. All without asking him for personal information or requiring church attendance or conversion. His wife was so blown away that she broke down in tears. The church was obviously not helping for any kind of publicity or benefit. They were pure in their motives.

    Yes the church is here and they are silently helping others!

    The Body of Christ.

    Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.

  140. brian says:

    “One local man, found wandering the street, was a diabetic who was upside down financially. A local church took him to a doctor and got him on medication, payed all his bills and back rent. All without asking him for personal information or requiring church attendance or conversion. His wife was so blown away that she broke down in tears. The church was obviously not helping for any kind of publicity or benefit. They were pure in their motives.”

    I can attest to seeing this happen several times and it touched me, this kind of stuff goes on all the time, we need to remember that and be encouraged.

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