Before you start ministering to the needs of the homeless you should educate yourself as much as possible. I want to pass on some things that I have learned the difficult way so that you can implement your ministry the easy way.
Goals of Ministering to the Homeless
As Christians we are commanded to help the poor. As we do this there are certain things that we would like to see happen. Here are some reasons for working with the homeless.
- Goal 1 – To show them that you genuinely care about them.
- Goal 2 – To present the Gospel to those who are not Christians.
- Goal 3 – To help those who are Christians have a better relationship with God.
- Goal 4 – To help them move back into productive lifestyles.
- Goal 5 – To encourage those who need rehabilitation to get into a program.
- Goal 6 – To provide basic items to help them survive.
- Goal 7 – To help connect them to sources of help in the community.
Why Not try to do Everything?
It would seem that a good approach to helping people is simply to make a list of everything that a group of people need and provide it to them. Doing this can be like opening up Pandora’s Box. If you provide 10 different items to a group then you will be known as the person who provides those 10 items. If you provide 10 other items the next time you go by you will be known as the person who provides 20 items and so on.
The solution is to pick the things that you want to provide and then be known as the person that provides those items only. Once a group realizes that those things are all you provide they will generally not ask for anything else. For example, you can be the bus pass person or the dog treat person. If you are the “this guy gets me whatever I want person” then that is not going to end well.
Giving Out Your Personal Information
If you don’t want people calling you then don’t give out your number. If you don’t want people coming to your house then do not tell them where you live. Only give out personal information when it is necessary. Helping people is one thing. Trusting everyone is another. If you want to provide a contact number then one suggestion is to purchase a pay by the minute Go Phone and give that number.
Laying the Groundwork for Others
When you interact with other people you should keep in mind that you are only one step in this person’s life. Someone will most likely come behind you and continue what you started. Try to make the next person’s job easier, not more difficult. Do this. Take a piece of paper and draw a line from left to right. This line represents another person’s path in life. Now draw another line straight up and down that intersects the first line. This represents your life. You have just drawn a plus sign. The point is that each time your life intersects with someone else’s life you should be a positive influence.
Keeping Up the Good Work
If you go by once to help a person, they will appreciate it. If you continue to go by and see people they will become friends and will respect you. Consistency puts you in a better position to help and encourage people.