If you read the gospels you will notice that Jesus always made personal contact with people. He talked with them and genuinely cared. We are to do the same thing.
To try and help someone without first taking the time to get to know them is like a hospital treating a patient without knowing what their problem is. If you do not take the time to talk with a person there is no way that you can know their situation. All you can do is assume which is what everyone else does. By talking with a person you are letting them know that you actually care and that you actually value them as a person. I asked a friend of mine who lived on the streets of Mobile for a few years what encouraged him the most when he was in that situation. He said that when a person treated him like a human being that gave him hope. He later accepted Christ as his Savior, got into a program, and is now an electrician. He also writes and performs Christian inspirational music.
By talking with people you will get a much better idea of what their particular situation is. You will better understand why they are living on the street and also what their goals are. You will be able to quickly determine whether their problems are simply economic or whether they have an addiction problem as well. Knowing these things will really help you to help them. What you do for one person may help them immensely. The same thing done for someone else may harm them. You want to enable people do better. You do not want to enable them to continue a destructive lifestyle.
You are going to find that many homeless people are Christians. They are generally very friendly and appreciate any help that people will give them. What they appreciate the most is someone that will take the time to listen to their story and talk to them. Most want to work, but some do not. Some have mental health issues and some do not. Some of the women come from abusive situations and some do not. Some have addiction issues but some do not. Don’t let addiction issues scare you off. The more hopeless a situation may seem to you the closer that person often is to salvation. The point is to not stereotype any group of people.
There is one stereotype you can make regarding homelessness that is true in almost all cases. That is that there is some problem. People with no problems are very seldom homeless. The American economic system normally catches them at some level. However, people with problems often fall all the way to the bottom of the system and land on the street. I say this so that you will understand that when you see a person living on the street you can be fairly confident that they need a friend.
Click here for our article on what different types of homeless individuals need.