Stay-at-home directive! But what about the homeless? Here are five steps to consider.
Many are hunkered down in their homes in Idaho Falls, in our broader state of Idaho, in the LDS I-15 Corridor, and in the western region of America. It is a blessing to have a home, a townhouse, or an apartment; but how are the homeless men, women, and children doing? Can you see any of their faces? Do you know any of their names in your city? Where do they go for the night? What will they eat today? What kind of jobs can they find currently? How do their children receive an education? What do they do for mental health services or when they are physically sick? And in the aftermath of relational storms, what family members do they call? That is if they have a phone.
Who will be the essential “first responders” to reach out? In fact, what can you do for the homeless in your community while sitting in your home?
Consider five initial steps:
- Decide today to partner together with the local Christian Rescue Mission in your community. Discover the rescue mission(s) near you through the Citygate Network. Put the phone number of your city rescue mission in your phone contact list.
- Connect. Find out what they need. Look through their website. Like them on social media. Give them a call. But be patient if you don’t get an immediate response by phone or social media. Some of them do not have big budget human resources and public relations departments. They might be stretched very thin, especially in this season of the coronavirus. It could take many attempts to reach out. And please learn where the shelters are located.
- Start praying for the staff at your local homeless shelter. They are all on meager financial compensation, and they are probably dealing with mental health, financial, and addiction crisis among people every day. According to the Department of Homeland Security, they are essential infrastructure workers in your city. Get to know their names. For starters, who is the executive director of the mission? Who is the supervisor for the women & children’s shelter? Who is the supervisor for the men’s shelter? Who oversees their respective ancillary services, like meal distribution? thrift store? Etc.
- Determine today to establish a long-term friendship with one of the staff members of your local rescue mission. How can you help shoulder burdens?
- Be aware of the poor in your downtown area, the people walking the sidewalks, the panhandlers standing in front of Walmart, and those in the homeless encampments. Converse with people on the streets. They are not in a safe place. Listen to them. Pray for them. Encourage them to connect with your city’s Rescue Mission. Because of their past experiences in dealing with tough love, rules, and accountability, they might cuss out your local homeless shelter just like they might cuss out their own family members. But keep loving the people on the streets and being an advocate for your local Mission. It is a victorious step that ought to be celebrated all over the city when an estranged family member humbly goes back to their family or when a homeless person steps through the doors of the city’s faith-based homeless shelter. Yet keep this in mind. Probably all our missions are at full or near full capacity because of necessary social distancing on bed space. Today, more than ever, there is a great need. How can we think creatively during the month of April?
Here is a brief, current snapshot of some of the Rescue Missions under the umbrella of Citygate Network:
Idaho Falls Rescue Mission (Facebook, Instagram) – Idaho Falls, Idaho
- Thank you to everyone who keeps the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission in ongoing prayers and support. If you would like to help, the immediate needs are food and money donations. Pray about it. Every night, in their Serving Hope ministry, the staff are serving meals in to-go trays through a window on E Street downtown. Meal trays are also delivered nightly to the Behavioral Health Crises Center and the IFRM women & children’s shelter. IFRM’s two shelters for men and women are basically at full capacity and following closely in complete compliance with city health and coronavirus safety measures.
- The IFRM First Street Thrift is temporarily closed.
- Yesterday, a resident at the women’s shelter basically remarked, “People are praying now in crises, but will they all stop their prayers when the coronavirus response is over.”
- Today, Charles Damon, the IFRM men’s Navigate Discipleship Director, commented on his Facebook page:
“Hold Fast” 90/180 Challenge! Read the bible cover-to-cover in the next 90-days and include two prayers each day!
But how do we keep faith in the middle of a storm?
It’s easy to say that our faith won’t falter when life is going smoothly, but it’s harder to say so when you’re in the midst of a storm. Sometimes all you can do is stand tall and push straight through.
Choosing to stand firm against your opposition is still a decision. Staying the course is a choice.
You can always give up. You can always quit. You can always turn your back on what you’re doing. Standing firm in your faith is often the most difficult decision that there is. It is also often the best decision there is.
There was an old phrase used among sailors back when most ships relied on sails; hold fast. This phrase would be shouted over the sound of thunder or of a battle from one sailor to the other.
When this phrase was used, it meant to stay at your position. To remain tightly secured in the face of adversity. When a storm is going over your boat, and the going gets tough, stand firm, and hold fast!
Life is full of waves. Sometimes you emerge unscathed, and other times you aren’t as lucky. The way I see it is that you are a survivor of every single storm so far. You have emerged victorious in every single hardship that you have been through up until this point.
When God is on your side, you’ll always have a winning record.
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Ephesians 6:13 NLT
Valley Mission (Facebook) – Pocatello, Idaho
Here is a recent Facebook post:
WOW! What a Monday! We had the Centennial Rotary Club help distribute commodities on Monday and it was amazing! With their help and the help of a few others who built boxes early, 192 families were fed in just over 1 hour. Great help, great setup and great food assortment. Thank you, Kia from the Idaho Foodbank, for bringing the load and hanging out with us to distribute.
THIS is what community is about – standing side by side (6 feet apart) and serving those in need.
LOVE OUR COMMUNITY! (Facebook – Valley Mission in Pocatello)
Boise Rescue Mission (Facebook) – Boise, Idaho
Good Samaritan Mission (Facebook) – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The executive director was drunk for 30 years. But Jesus completely changed Chuck. He will encourage anyone who steps through the doors of this local rescue mission to lift their eyes to the cross of Christ for hope, forgiveness, and life transformation.
Rescue Mission of Salt Lake (Facebook) – Salt Lake City, Utah
“The Rescue Mission of Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah) experienced an earthquake on Wednesday, March 18, which, collapsed a 50 square-foot section of wall in the mission’s main building. When the building was deemed uninhabitable by inspectors, and the fire marshal nixed sending guests up to their partnering Ogden Rescue Mission, Salt Lake County stepped in to provide a temporary facility until repairs can be completed. Executive Director Chris Croswhite is thankful no one was hurt.” (Citygate Network – Street Smart)
Denver Rescue Mission (Facebook) – Denver, Colorado
“Denver Rescue Mission (Denver, Colorado) CEO Brad Meuli shared that they received 300 applications for 35 temporary positions to fill vacancies for at-risk staff and volunteers who are no longer able to come to the mission to serve because of the Coronavirus situation.” (Citygate Network – Street Smart)
Cheers to Denver!
Las Vegas Rescue Mission (Facebook)– Las Vegas, Nevada
“Parking Lot Accommodations Set Up for the Homeless
Approximately 500 homeless people in and around Las Vegas were moved to an open-air parking lot when an individual at a local Catholic Charities shelter tested positive for Coronavirus. The CDC suggests outdoor spaces could offer more social distancing and lessen the risk of spreading infection. City officials set up a grid in a downtown parking lot, marking out safely spaced places for individuals to sleep on a carpet, or directly on the asphalt. Medical students and professors from a nearby university have volunteered to screen those who enter the parking lot, and mobile showers have been set up for the occupants to use. The facility opens from 6pm to 8am and will be available until the Catholic Charities shelter reopens.” (Citygate Network – Street Smart)