“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful.”
And this is what we are discovering as the weeks serving the homeless at their “homes”, seems to fly by. At first, we were looked upon with suspicion and skepticism, by those we wanted give hot soup, coffee, sandwiches, and a sweet of some kind. Plus, we also brought along socks, blankets, hygiene kits, jackets, shoes, tracts, bibles, and a variety of other things that people have donated to us, to help the homeless. Each week we go out, our Van is loaded with items we received that week, so our “pass-outs” vary from week to week.
From what the homeless tell us, the first time we went out to them, they were wondering if we were just going to be one of the many organizations or persons who come out once or twice a year and were just handing out “pity”. But, it was still good in their estimation. They still clung to this suspicion, until we began showing up each Friday night, and soon their trust in us began to grow.
Now, when they see our Van, they come to meet us and we find ourselves spending more and more time, just talking with them. On occasion, we are allowed to step into their “homes”, where we see firsthand their needs and their uses of the things that we give them. Socks are still the most requested items, but talking with them, we learned they needed such things as matches, especially the wooden box matches (do they still make these…) and candles…not the tall skinny ones, but the ones with a large base. Flashlights are nice, but batteries cost too much for them, so they make their own candles out of an aluminum can, paraffin, and a shoelace: All they want is just a little light to see around in their put-together, made from discarded materials, “house”.
But we are also asked more frequently for bibles and tracts plus prayer. Last Friday, we were able to pray for one or more persons at every encampment we visited…and every once in awhile, we see a person accept Jesus and we all rejoice along with the angels in heaven.
…”The harvest truly is plentiful…”Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matt 9:37-38)
Starting Jan 14th, we moved the Care-A-Van outing to Thursday nights, and if you would like to join us some night, please contact Jerry at 310-830-7063. We can only take 1 or 2 people at a time, so reservations are necessary.
Some Interesting Facts
U.S. Ranks High in World Charity Index
The U.S. has proved itself as a giving nation, ranking second overall in the 2015 World Giving Index. The majority of American households, 95.4%, donate to charities, contributing an annual average of $2974. Not all U.S. states give equally though. Utah was the most giving state, with Rhode Island being the least. Maryland and Idaho came in second and third in most giving, while Louisiana and California made up the second and third least charitable states. To calculate the most and least giving states, the financial information site, WalletHub, analyzed each state across eight key metrics, including volunteer rate, percentage of population who claim to have donated time and money, and median and contribution to charity.
Poverty Can Negatively Affect Decision Making
How does poverty affect the ability to make decisions?
According to the Atlantic, poverty hurts our ability to make decisions about school, finances and life. The report is based on a study first published in Science which concludes that living in poverty imposes a mental burden similar to losing 13 IQ points.
An example of the reality of the study can be found in a commentary from a person in poverty titled “Why I Make Terrible Decisions.” The individual states, “There is a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there is money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are, you will be broke in three days anyway.” The writer goes on to say, “We don’t plan long-term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.”
Homeless People Face Unique Health Challenges
The Christmas season is a joyful time, but it can also be very difficult for those with no place to call home. A Medical News Today article highlights some of the health challenges those on the streets faced this holiday season, including mental and physical ailments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mortality rate for homeless people is 4 to 9 times higher than the general population, and the average life expectancy is only 41.
Many factors can lead to poor health in homeless people, including environmental stresses of climate and violence; poor nutrition and hygiene facilities; low personal safety; lack of privacy, warmth, and space; lack of access to warm clothing and money; and stability and supportive relationships. Homeless people are also prone to hypothermia and frostbite, especially during the winter months. In the U. S., hypothermia is a leading cause of injury and death for those without shelter. Around 700 homeless people die from hypothermia each year.