Park Slope Pastor Considers His Homeless
People keep asking why don't we get rid of them. We can't. We've tried. Believe me, we have tried. They have abused our hospitality, they piss on our building, they leave food around, they leave garbage all over, they play their radio at great volumes (God forgive me, I have had to resort to theft against them to deal with that one). They are a pain in the neck. But we will not treat them as less than human beings.If you have a moment a full read of Rev. Meeter's post is highly recommended.
We have tried to get rid of them. We've discovered the hard way that we can't do it, we can't beat them. Whenever I chase them away, they just wait an hour, two hours, and they come back. I go home at night, and they come back. No matter what we do or say, they come back...
I will confess a strong desire inside myself to just let them be. It's Jesus' church, not mine, not ours, and the New Testament is very clear about our hospitality to the poor. "The poor you will always have with you." The parable of Lazarus. Etc. You get the point. And there is no asterix pointing to a codicil that says, "the nice poor."
But at the same time I recognize we belong to a community, and the church has the responsibility to be a good neighbor, and if the guys scare the kids, and make lewd comments at women and passersby, and if they leave food scraps around for vermin to get at, etc. etc., then, well, I know that the church has to be a good neighbor. So we decided this last July that they absolutely had to go. We tried to get rid of them. As I said, we couldn't.
We chased them away every morning. They came back every night. We threw out their stuff. They found new stuff. Only now they started getting even more hostile, to us and to other passersby. We finally found that we couldn't beat them, and the only thing was to try to control it. Yes, they beat us.
[Photo courtesy Wally G/flickr]
Labels: Park Slope