“The city fathers will need to address this problem soon.”
A Denver policewoman made this remark in a safety meeting recently held by my company.
She was referencing the homeless population in Denver.
I give all due respect to the officer. I met her after the meeting. She is a great person, performing her duties with high honor and dignity.
But her comment left me thinking.
Something is wrong when we have to start referring to fellow human beings as “problems.”
Great evil lurks in this viewpoint.
Between the years 1933 to 1945, over 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust movement started by the Nazi regime. The Nazis viewed the Jews and any of their friends as “problems.”
In 1994, in Rwanda, over the course of 100 days, 800,000 Tutsi people were murdered by the Hutu extremists.
The Hutu viewed the Tutsi as “problems.”
One in five children in America live in a household that struggles to put food on the table.
These kids are often the “problem” kids in schools. They can’t focus because they haven’t eaten.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, in 2011, the official poverty rate was 15.0% and 46.2 million people lived in poverty in the United States.
We look at the faces on the streets, grip our wallets and see “problems.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbors Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq in the last few months.
6.5 million people are internally displaced within Syria.
The refugees are considered a “problem” by the Europeans and America.
One news website I visited posted a picture of a desperate Syrian man. As my heart ached for his pain, I made the mistake of reading the comments posted below the photo. The hateful words, racism, and judgment astounded me.
Have we really lost our ability to empathize?
Has it become so easy to punch in words on a screen that we have no idea to relate to other people’s pain?
What kind of world are we creating for our kids?
What is going on in our hearts?
Webster’s defines the word “problem” as: A question or situation that presents doubt, perplexity, or difficulty.
A problem is not a person; it is a circumstance.
The people who are in tough times are created, knitted together by God, human beings. They bear the image of God. They are our fellow brothers and sisters.
Of course, I am uncomfortable around homeless people. I hear the stories of violent attacks and muggings. Naturally, I don’t like to entertain the thought of kids going hungry or families living in tents. I am appalled at genocide and war and racism.
But, just because I feel awkward or helpless, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to do something. I could judge. I could remain indifferent. I could hold back mercy. Or I could see myself as part of the solution. I can love and serve. I can allow my mind to be open to change. I can be the difference.
Like these guys:
Father Woody began serving the homeless people in Denver 40 years ago. He’s built shelters, served meals, and advocated for kids. I stumbled across Father Woody’s work while searching online for volunteer opportunities. The quote at the bottom of his web page is this: “We are here to serve, not to judge.” I think Father Woody and I would be friends.
Mike is a certified chef who works at the Colorado Springs Homeless Shelter. Mike teaches homeless men and women to cook, gives them a certificate of completion, and aids them in finding jobs in food service. Mike sees potential, not problems. I want to shake his hand.
In 1995, David and Debbie Bolos, missionaries in Peru, saw the kids who were on the streets, or in dangerous situations and decided to open a children’s home. Since the opening of New Hope Children’s Home, the orphanage has housed over 175 kids. The Home is celebrating 20 years of service to children, and is running a campaign to raise more funds for sponsorships, buildings, and other needs. The passion of the Bolos family astounds me. The faces of these kids? They just make me want to hug them, bake them chocolate chip cookies, send them Christmas gifts, and pay for their education.
These examples humble and amaze me.
The apostle John wrote, “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus didn’t see the prostitutes, the down-and-out, the lepers, and the outcasts as problems needing to be fixed. He saw them as people who needed a Healer, a Helper, and a Savior.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” I don’t know what your calling is. I don’t know what your role is. I can’t give you a game plan. I can’t demand you support a certain cause.
But I can ask you to look at the people.
Do unto others as you would have it done to you. Give back dignity to those who have lost it. Help those who cannot help themselves.
Jesus said, ‘Give to him who asks you.’ I’m His follower, so I know I am being asked. Compassion is calling my name. Mercy seeks for volunteers. Grace desires to be spread. As Paul wrote in the ancient letter to the Thessalonians, my work should be “produced by faith”, my labor “prompted by love”, and my endurance “inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world as a problem; He came to save it.
I want to love like He loves.
A painting of this quote is hanging in my son’s bedroom.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to change, no, it’s not.”
Dr. Suess was right.
The world needs more of people like Father Woody, Mike, David and Debbie.
I’m ready to care a whole awful lot.
Let’s do something…together.
Find out more about Father Woody’s Haven of Hope at www.frwoodyshavenofhope.org
To help the kids in Peru, go to www.peruhope.org!
These awesome websites gave me the facts I quoted earlier: