Black History Month: Joining the fight for social justice – Homelessness (Week 2)

February 7, 2019

“Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Homelessness in communities across America is a problem most people are aware exists but few actually experience it firsthand. Housing is the key, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH). More than ever, there is a shortage of housing units that low-income people can afford. As that gap between income and housing costs grow, the NAEH indicates that more people will face homelessness. Poor living conditions and limited access to health care can have a great impact on a person’s health. Being homeless is associated with health problems such as HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and tuberculosis. Homeless individuals also experience disproportionately high rates of various other communicable infections and chronic diseases, suffer poorer mental health than average, are more likely to abuse substances, and are often the victims of violence and hunger. A number of families affected by homelessness and those at risk of having inadequate or unstable housing are unfortunately growing.

With the increase in foreclosures and other economic challenges, we must find ways to respond to the health needs of all populations.

I wonder, are we as moved as we should be by the rampant starvation and homelessness that is occurring, not only in our local communities, but throughout the world? Matthew 14 records a time when Jesus was moved with compassion. Jesus had taken a boat to the vicinity of Bethsaida. The crowds heard that Jesus was nearby and they began to follow Him on foot. Jesus saw the large crowd and “…had compassion on them…” As evening approached, the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away so they can find something to eat. Jesus told the disciples they should feed them. But the disciples answered: “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish” (v. 17). Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and fed the multitude. This miracle of Jesus resonates the profound need for compassion of His followers today. As a church we should be feeding the hungry, whether that hunger is a hunger for food, the Word of God, empowerment, healthcare, etc.

Being homeless and hungry can be a lonely and difficult time. Through ingenuity, commitment, awareness, and compassion, together we must address this public health challenge and crucial social justice issue. Jesus said:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

– Matthew 25:35-40

Next Week: Continuation

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