by Kim Priddy, Associate Pastor of Missions
To hand someone a dollar or not? This is a debate that is faced when you come upon someone holding a cardboard sign at an intersection that reads: “Hungry- Anything Helps.” The bible verse Matt 25:40 “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’” may come to mind. Seeing poverty and how to handle it often causes some internal strife and for good public debate.
We see our homeless and hungry community friends and our response is one of compassion. Of course we do not want people to go hungry or without proper and safe shelter. Lately in our Greensboro News and Record and social media we have seen two sides of a difficult subject- homeless being outside and the efficient use of our resources. I first want to begin by saying how fortunate I believe we are in Greensboro to have the resources available that we have for those in need. Greensboro has the Interactive Resource Center, Greensboro Urban Ministry, StreetWatch, a strong and supportive Faith Community, and United Way. Each of these resources has programs and systems that have been put into place to help folks in time of crisis as well as long term: housing, employment, health, education, and assistance with day-to-day needs. It is difficult to trust in a system where the results can not be seen immediately, but it is precisely what we are being asked to do when it comes to ending homelessness in Greensboro- trust in a system that does not have overt immediate results. We need to trust that those who care about homelessness and are educated in social urban issues are working diligently and respectively to create systems that will get folks off the street and in secure housing. There are so many variables that one often does not think about when we are focused on the moment in front of us. For example, we need more affordable housing in Greensboro. There is a shortage of homes with affordable rent. Partners Ending Homelessness are working with all kinds of moving parts to create a way for all to have a home. In the meantime when it is cold, we have to respond and Greensboro always does. It is difficult but we now have to be trusting of the work being done so that in the near future Greensboro will end homelessness. Being patient does not mean for us to sit back, we need to be educated and advocate for the work being done.
Debate is good, it will make for stronger systems. Advocates for the homeless and hungry remind us of the gravity of the work to be done; but most importantly it all needs to lead to a healthy, viable, and constructive system. As churches and individuals we can have the best intention and a huge heart but our work can actually hurt the very folks that we are wanting to help if not done in a thoughtful way. If you would like to talk more about how to be a community that helps then join us at First Baptist Church on Sunday mornings at 9:15am to study the book “When Helping Hurts” written by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.