Question…

Many people, including myself, have a hard time managing how we serve the homeless in a community center such as TriPoint (which is open to all people).  How can we serve all types of people at the same time?  It can be awkward, challenging, and painful.  How do we balance safety concerns, Christian hospitality, programs, and flow without limiting the freedom of all community members?  I would love to know your thoughts!  There are all kinds of responses to this delimma.  Share your thoughts on this board or email me at gavin@trinitybaptist.org.

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5 thoughts on “Question…

  1. God has always been a God of law&order. Even in early Biblical times there were “gate keepers” “keepers of the gates “,..temple gates…city gates …even referenced in the “heavenly gates”! Wherever there was
    a gathering of “community”, th…ere was an ever present, protective, and responsible overseer of all who dwelled within the walls. We hear all too often, “What a shame we have to have guards at every entrance…it’s just the times we live in today!!” Well..as history reads…it’s not a new thing on this earth..especially in Biblical history and the “fall of humanity.” Class differences in community are not a danger..Evil is…and Righteousness Knew that…thus a Gate Keeper! We cannot
    escape danger on this earth… To think we can is a delusion! God’s answer was instructive and simple. Hey… The Boat of “safety” for the homeless has a gate keeper who sees all who enter..they open the gate at 9:00 and close it at 10:00 to keep all safe within for a needed rest&sense of peace&safety..until the gate opens at 6:00 am…and they once again enter a world full of danger and uncertainty. Sounds like the world that awaits all of us! Does that make us all Homeless? Song Lyric: “I am a poor, wayfaring stranger..traveling through this world of woe, But there’s no sickness, toil or danger in that Bright Land to which I go.” All travelers need a Savior! …Simple=A trustworthy gate keeper for the community within TriPoint…God Appointed+worthy men

  2. My experience with homeless individuals and safety has been interesting. We were able to help people get back on their feet and others that we needed to stay away from due to safety precautions . Some individuals still had the will to allow change and get up to the challenge, while others simply gave in, and others with mental disabilities. Trying to encourage the forfeiting people is challenging and at times dangerous. I guess the challenge is to recognize the proper opportunity to connect with people, especially for an intervert like myself. Gavin, stay safe out there and keep seizing those opportunities!

  3. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
    then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.”
    Isaiah 58: 9b-10
    Aren’t we called to serve the poor and needy, then we will be blessed and other things will follow. I think that throughout the bible God calls us to “loose the chains of injustice” (Isaiah 58),”speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). If we serve the homeless, the community will recognize that and God will bless it. If God wants us to work with the homeless he will provide protection. We create plans and projections and programs, when true faith just calls us to love and serve and the rest will follow. There is no final solution to creating a good ministry but by blessing the poor and homeless God makes it clear that you in turn will be blessed as well.

    One of the largest injustices in the world today is the economic injustice. Throughout history we have moved from having slavery, to racial and gender injustices and today the largest injustice facing us in economic. It’s international and it’s local. It’s within our own borders and we perpetuate it through an Apartheit system: The homeless belong in the homeless shelters, away from society, away from the business people who have to walk by them every day. (Just the same as the poor belonging in their own countries, separated by a piece of paper bestowed on you through your accomplishment of having been born in a different geographic location that condemned you to a poverty we created through our international economic system.) “Twenty or thirty years ago, poverty was the fruit of injustice. Now poverty is fair reward for inefficiency. Poverty may arouse pity, but it no longer causes indignation. People are poor by the law of chance or the hand of fate. Consumer society insults them by offering what it denies.” – Eduardo Galeano.

    TriPoint is unique in that it brings these two communities together. Perhaps if we would stop asking how we can serve the homeless and stop seeing them as someone who needs charity. We’re called to give them respect and dignity as human beings; they have skills and abilities to contribute to the community as well. They volunteer and help out around TriPoint. Perhaps this could be a challenge for the business people to reach out and see how they might do business in a way that can give back to the community and help these homeless get back on their feet. Christ is a God who breaks down barriers and walls, whether they be economic or cultural or just plain bigotry. He is the re-newer and transformer of culture and it’s about time we let him transform our culture and our prejudices. He has called us to love and serve the poor. Not pity them, but love them in all of their flaws and maybe take the time to actually recognize their existence.

    I think something that scares us about dealing with the homeless is that we would have to recognize the hard truth: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58) If we get to close we might see the face of Jesus looking back at us. Why don’t we stop asking what we can do for them and how we can serve them and let them teach us something?

  4. Love God + Love Others. Where do we put the boundaries? We must have order, but we must have love. It is not that hard to have rules, boundaries, limits, etc. They just need to apply to everyone no matter who they are or how much money they have or their background. Require them to show Love to Others and encourage them to Love God. If that means that you limit areas of TriPoint for the safety of an event (especially one that involves kids) then you limit the area for everyone, not just one demographic. We are called to be image bearers and some of the BEST image bearers that challenged me and my way of thinking was the homeless population that TriPoint serves. Keep the light shining Gavin. God Bless

  5. I feel like you are asking the very same questions that we wrestle with at Galloway! It can definitely be “messy” when we try to follow Jesus by welcoming all and breaking down social barriers. Our church is located in downtown Jackson, MS between our State Capitol building and Smith Park, where many people who are homeless hang out. Every weekday we welcome folks on the margins to Grace Place where we serve a meal and offer a safe and caring place for people to have access to basic things like a clean restroom, a cup of coffee, a telephone, and people who are willing to listen and try to connect them with community resources. Every weekday, we also operate a top-quality early childhood development center in our same building. On any given day we might also host in the next room, legislators, lobbyists, and other community and church leaders. We seek to be a place of hospitality for all and to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

    We’ve had to address safety concerns and our calling to be a place of hospitality and Christian outreach with great intentionality. Our Grace Place guests sign in as they enter the building and sign out as they leave. We have volunteers stationed at the door and in the hallway to welcome people and to make sure that we can account for everyone in the building. Our missions and outreach director and other volunteers pray for the names on our sign-in list, and also find it helpful in situations when one of regular attenders is missing for several days. Some of our friends who have connected with us through Grace Place also attend our Sunday worship services, and several have joined the church. One of my favorite moments in worship is celebrating communion as we all come forward with open hands, ready to receive God’s grace available to us all, not because of who we are, but because of God’s great love for all of creation. The hands of a person who calls the streets of Jackson home receiving the body of Christ, the hands of the father of one of my youth who works in construction coming forward to humbly receive, the hands of a retired schoolteacher outstretched, along with the hands of a successful businessperson open and patiently waiting for the bread and the cup that remind us that through Christ we are one body.

    We don’t have all the answers, and it sounds like we could learn many things from y’all as well! I know you’ve told me some about TriPoint, but I’d love to hear more! I’m grateful for a church congregation and staff that are leaning into hard questions like the ones you have posed. We recognize that we can’t do everything, but we are trying to remain faithful to what God is calling us to do and be in our particular context. My prayers are with y’all as you discern and seek God’s guidance for your continued ministry in the San Antonio community. Your Lenten experience will probably give you a much broader perspective too!

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