Recently Christy and I were serving with a local Christian-based ministry to the homeless, Churches on the Streets, in downtown St. Louis. The ministry provides clean clothes, a nutritious meal, and hygiene necessities in a friendly, loving atmosphere. Volunteers spend time talking with and spending time with people who are often viewed and treated as if they have no value and their lives don’t matter. Most importantly, the homeless are shown they do have value in God’s eyes, Jesus does love them, and He has not forgotten them.
Toward the end of the evening, a nicely dressed, middle-aged couple walked through the area. As they approached me, I made eye contact with the lady and smiled. As she passed, she grabbed me by the arm and angrily said, “You know you’re not helping these people. All you’re doing is enabling them. You’re not helping them at all!”
Since that evening, we’ve been thinking about what the lady said and if it’s true.
Does providing food, clothing, blankets, hygiene products, and the love of Christ encourage homelessness? If Churches on the Streets stopped providing essential life services to the homeless would they get jobs, pay taxes, buy homes, and become model citizens? If we stopped serving the homeless, would homelessness be eliminated?
Many of the homeless we encounter are veterans. Some are mentally ill. Some are convicted criminals or drug and alcohol abusers. Some have made horrible, life changing decisions which spiraled out of control and put them on a path to homelessness. All are God’s children.
The fact is, not one of the people we serve has ever said, “Because of you, we don’t have to get jobs or pay a mortgage.” Not one has ever said, “Because of you, we’re able to live freely on the streets with no responsibilities.” Not one has ever said, “Because of you we’re able to live with no worries or concerns.”
As Christians, our call is to show the love of Christ in such a manner that it points others to Him. We’re to be the hands and feet of Christ in a lost and hurting world. James 2:15-16 says this about faith: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” God’s love comes with no qualifiers, no limit, and no warning label indicating its overuse may lead to homelessness.
So after several days of reflection what did I conclude? I was able to conclude that Christy and I are both enablers. I concluded we’re teaching our sons to be enablers also. Many of our friends and the people we serve with at Churches on the Streets are enablers as well.
No, we’re not enabling men and women to remain homeless. We are enabling them to have at least one nutritious meal on Thursday. We’re enabling them to have clean clothes, a warm blanket, and hygiene at least one day a week. Most importantly, for at least a couple of hours a week, we’re enabling them to feel valued as human beings and to experience the unlimited, unequivocal, and unashamed love of God!
I am an enabler!
What you just read is my friend Walt Streicher’s Facebook post from a few days ago. It’s a very powerful message wouldn’t you agree?
Every since I read it I’ve spent a whole lot of time thinking about the things he said and this morning I knew this message was one that needed to be shared. So with Walt’s permission, I’ve shared it with you today.
I have also decided that I too want to be an enabler!
How about you? Do you want to be an enabler? Or are you already an enabler?