Please enjoy our latest blog written by our Team Leader of Relational Meal Events, Noelle Ferrari:
Every time I interact with a homeless person, I am struck by their broken humanity. Recently, I met two men who were angry.
The first man I met was a Vietnam veteran. He was in a wheelchair due to injuries acquired while intoxicated. Circumstances that he felt were beyond his control have worn him down over his lifetime. The story he told was a cycle of success and failure caused by his own alcoholism and substance abuse.
He was angry because he didn’t feel like he had control over his life, and he didn’t know how to give up the vices that were taking his control away.
“Why won’t they help?”
The second man was angry for a whole different reason. He was angry at the system that ignores him and people like him.
Why do you come down here with food? Why don’t you come down here with cameras and show the world what’s going on out here? No one cares that we’re here, and no one wants to see it!
He told me about how he used to bring homeless men home with him, and let them use his shower, do their laundry, sleep in a bed, and eat a hot meal. And then the next night, he would do the same for another homeless person.
He thought everyone who has the means should do the same.
And yet, for all his compassion, this man found himself in the exact same place as all the men he had tried to help.
Two approaches, two failures
The first man was caught in a cycle–he would get clean, and then he would get off the streets and become successful. But when he had achieved success, something drove him to bury himself back into the vices that had made him homeless to begin with.
The second man gave his resources and his security to help meet people’s basic needs, only to put them back out on the street the next morning and then end up homeless himself.
But neither of these men ever accomplished lasting change, for themselves or for others.
A different approach
Now I want to tell you about a third man. He too was homeless–living in the same park I was serving in. He had been filled with anger as well, anger which had led him to do things you would think there is no coming back from.
But, in that park, he was met by people who loved Jesus, and they taught him how to love Jesus too. Over time, he rebuilt his life, changed his heart, and today, he is a pastor presiding over seven Seattle-area churches.