Let’s be honest. There are some posts you naturally want to read and there are others that just don’t interest you at all. I can post about Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, talk politics, or the uber traffic magnet – Mac computers – and attract at least 4000 reads/post. But bring up something like homelessness and I might be lucky to get 200 readers. That’s 5% for those that don’t have my mad math skills.
So, I’d like to challenge you to do your good deed for the day and read this post about homelessness.
There are two main things I have learned over the years of living and engaging in the urban context.
- Homeless is a very broad word that unfairly is used to portray the totality of a very diverse group of people.
- Homelessness is a very complex and real problem that will only increase in light of the economic downturn.
I don’t have all the answers but it’s simply not acceptable to not do anything. Several weeks ago, a group of pastors I meet with regularly hosted a representative from the mayor’s office of Seattle to ask, push back, and learn about what the city is doing. It was actually pretty helpful. We learned that the city devotes 38 million dollars in various ways to serve the homeless and displaced. But is it making an impact?
But how is the [C]hurch responding? How? I’m more and more convinced that the reason why the [C]hurch feels paralyzed is that our paradigm nearly always involves two things: 1] Sundays and 2]our services in our buildings. If we can just think outside that box, we can unleash so much creative resources. Understand what I’m trying to say. I think Sundays and buildings are perfectly acceptable and important but maybe solutions don’t have to intersect with Sundays and buildings. Literally, we need to think outside the box – or – building.
As I shared above, the “homeless” is a broad word. I don’t want to pretend to be an expert but in the 7+ years at Quest and Q Cafe, we have met and heard from hundreds and hundreds of the homeless community which gave birth to the church’s To The Streets ministry which is still going strong. In short, homelessness is indeed very complex but like many issues, we tend to forget that there are people – human beings – beneath the issues. Like you, they go hungry, cold, lonely, afraid…and there are some who genuinely want to get off the streets. Beyond just compassion, they need dignity and advocates…
We can’t fix everything but maybe we can commit to listening…
Couple months ago, Q Cafe partnered with some friends and hosted a benefit concert for the Nickelsville “Homeless” Community. There were several folks from the homeless encampment that came to share their stories. One of them was a fabulous poet named Aaron “Beau” Beaucage. You can learn more about his story via Dustin or Jeff but in a nutshell this was his story. I want to share a glimpse of his story and his gifts because soon, the world will all forget:
Beau was an amazing guy, who ended up homeless after the trucking industry became too expensive to survive because of rising gas prices and while trying to go out on a fishing boat, missed the opportunity because of a slowdown in the industry. He had only been homeless for about 6 months when he ended up at Nickelsville…
Beau also recently passed away in his sleep…way to young to die.
Quest is hosting an event that – cynically – will likely flop in comparison to the recent conferences and classes we’ve hosted. Why? You know why. But I still want to invite residents of Seattle to come and join us for a Learning Conversation on Monday, March 16 (7pm). I’m hopeful for this event because we’ve gathered some of the most invested practitioners in Seattle for a think tank conversation – in hopes of creative efforts to be part of a solution. These folks aren’t wanna be’s like me who type away behind a computer. These are folks that live out their convictions. DeAnza, our Compassion/Justice pastor, will be hosting the following people:
- Tim Harris (director of Real Change)
- Craig Rennebohm (chaplain to the homeless and author of Souls in the Hands of a Tender God)
- Rev. Rick Reynolds (director of Operation Nightwatch)
- Dustin Cross (Pastor at Nickelsville)
- Bill Kirlin-Hacket (director of InterfaithTask Force on Homelessness)
- Rev. Monica Corsaro (director of Social Justice Ministries at the Church Council of Greater Seattle)