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"The Greatest Tragedy is indifference"

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Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Another perspective on poverty

There is a way of thinking in the US, that if you want to be successful, all you have to do is work hard and there is opportunity available to all.  To understand poverty and homelessness, we must go a little deeper than pat ideas and look into another person’a life. 

Here is a link to scripture references on the poor and God's heart toward it-
Jesus said this-Matthew 25:35-36 "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was in prison and you came to me. I was naked and you clothed me."  Then the RIGHTEOUS will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink and when did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you...AND THE KING WILL ANSWER THEM, TRULY I SAY TO YOU, AS YOU DID IT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE, MY BROTHERS, YOU DID IT FOR ME."   
I recently shared the story below with a friend...who asked me a simple question.  A question I receive quite often in relation to Faith that Works(FTW) work with the homeless- Shouldn’t we only help people that are in progress?  Not perpetuate their situation.  I first shared the scriptures above, then a ftw video, then the story below which gives a personal account of one woman we helped,  which we have  permission to share.  These are the details as I remember them...and are similiar to MANY people we help.  People do not choose to be homeless!  They may choose to stay there, but MANY struggles and heartache landed them there in the first place. 
  She was born into poverty with a drug addict abusive father,  and a mother who hated her.  This young child was then sexually abused by an uncle, and no one helped her, even though certain people knew it was happening.  This same girl ran away from the physical, mental, and sexual abuse into the arms of  man who she thought would rescue her.  She married him, only to learn that he was also an abuser.  She had no education, but went through some training to do home health care.  She came home from supporting her family every night where her husband was drunk and hit her.  She was diagnosed later as having post traumatic syndrome after ending up in the ER with severe head trauma from a beating.  Then one day she had a mental breakdown.  She tried to get help, but she was already "labeled" as a lost cause.  She ran again, leaving her children because she didn't know what else to do.  She was living in a neighborhood where her rent was cheap, but there were crack addicts in her building, and she started to use, depressed from leaving her children and all that she had suffered.   She was lonely, and afraid.  Then her landlord raised her rent from $250 per month, to $350, then up to $600.  When it grew to $600 she could no longer make the rent, and was evicted.  She moved to a hotel, where she begged her mom,dad, relatives to help her, but they laughed at her.  She could no longer pay the hotel owner and went to the streets, where she hooked up with another homeless person/ a man for protection. (many homeless women do this for safety, for they know they will fall victim to abuse and rape from men living on the streets if they are by themselves) She looked and looked for a job.  (she couldn't work as a home health care provider with her condition)No job for a person diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, so she began to lie on her app's.  and finally got a minimum wage job, which we have come to find out is impossible for people to live on.   She found tent city, and moved into a tent, telling herself that somehow she would dig her way out of this life-and that's when FTW met her.  She was our first "official" friend in tent city.  I'll never forget, the first day I met her she said, I don't belong here, I used to have a home, four kids, I gotta get out of here>and we helped her.  We didn't understand all that she had endured.  My heart broke for the little girl she once was-that was brutally let down and abused by everyone in her life that should of been there to nurture, help, and protect her.   WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND- that is the point.  We think education makes us somehow above this sort of suffering- and maybe it does, maybe we will never be alone and living in a tent- As someone told me recently, we are privileged by this definition only:  We have family support, education, good neighborhoods.   I don’t look at it as my job to determine a person’s intentions, but my goal is to follow God’s word and it’s 100’s of exhortations to help the poor/ and not only when they are in progress.

I receive inspiration from the amazing work of Amy Charmicheal, William Carey, Brother Andrew, Mary Slessor, and Mother Teresa, (and and here is a quote from her-
Written By Mother Teresa
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

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