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Day 295: The Least of These. How Can We Help the Homeless?

I landed on 1 Corinthians 13 for my daily bible reading today.  I cannot believe how far I have come, in more ways than  one!  But this is not a race or a climb to the top. I have learned much, but have so much more to learn. So much more growing to do. When I finish reading the Bible cover to cover, I shall start all over again. At the beginning: 

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" from Genesis 1.


However, I just read an interesting article. Apparently, according to a Dutch professor of "Old Testament exegesis begs to differ. ("Exegesis (/ˌɛksəˈsəs/; from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι 'to lead out') is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exegesis)

"Ellen van Wolde, who holds her inaugural speech at the Raboud university in Nijmegen on Friday, says the Hebrew word bara should not be translated as 'created' but as 'separated'. So the first verse would read "God separated the heaven and the earth", indicating that there was something before Creation began" (http://vorige.nrc.nl//international/article2382446.ece/First_verse_of_bible_was_translation_mistake,_professor_says

I may have to ask the pastor of my church what he makes of this.

Anyway, as I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself - my daily bible reading - 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13:
"13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
I must admit, I almost skipped over it.  I consider this scripture the "Wedding scripture".  Especially 13: 4-7. While I do not have it memorized, it sounds way too familiar. But I scolded myself, and read it slowly.  Twice.  I broke out in goosebumps.  I wrote it on an index card to carry with me.   It is easy to gloss over the words, especially since they have been quoted a gazillion times.  But read it slowly, preferably aloud. The first sentence is captivating. And there is so truth in these words. If only our politicians would read these words before their debates. What a world we might live in!

I was pondering these words at lunch after church today. And again, on the bus to the library, before my first piano student.  

As I pondered, a very dirty man dressed in dirty ragged clothes, got on the bus. He told the driver he only had $.70.  Bus fare is now $2.50 for 2.5 hours on Trimet.  She told him he needed to pay full fare and told him to get off the bus. I knew I had no cash on me. Lately, funds have been tight for us.  But I have been seeing more and more destitute, downtrodden people. I felt sad and guilty.  I had lunch in a restaurant today.  Granted it was only $6.00 - the infamous HoHo lunch special (cashew shrimp, my favorite!), but I could have helped that man.  

The bus driver sat at the stop a few minutes more. I think she was ahead of schedule. Then another, dirty, raggedy man walked up and got on board. He muttered something uninteligable to the driver. She had to ask him several times to repeat himself. He told her he was cold and wet (it was pouring down rain) and didn't feel well, but didn't have bus fare. She told to sit at the covered bus stop and asked if wanted her to call 9-1-1. He said no and shuffled off. My heart was bursting! I could have bought bus fare for both of these sad souls if I hadn't had lunch out!

So I said a prayer for them.

The homeless situation in Portland, Oregon is out of control. As a commuter and walker, I am approached several times daily by people asking for spare change. I usually keep some in pocket, so I don't make myself a victim by opening up my purse.

But spring break is coming up. Which means no income for me.  I want to help, but my situation is not that much better than theirs.  Even if I completely stop eating in restaurants.

Just yesterday I read an article how the homeless crisis in Portland is effecting tourism.  Perhaps now something will be done?

A few weeks ago, I referenced an article about Pisgah Home Road on the blog "Forest Hiker" (http://www.foresthiker.com/?p=2415)
It talked about Finis Yoakum and his faith healing movement that started in Los Angeles. He began with a "home originally had room for only eight persons and was founded “to give free care to drunkards and outcasts” who wished to reform."
What I find interesting and I wish we could learn from this model today, is how this movement spread to other cities. It wasn't just rehab. The people they housed would work for their room and board:
"Apparently, the effort grew into a major social initiative that inspired good Samaritans as far away as Portland, where “Mother Lawrence” took up the challenge. Hattie Lawrence was born in Wisconsin in 1859 and came to Portland at the age of 26. She seems to have copied the Pisgah Home concept when she established a Portland-based “Pisgah Home” to take care of the “down and out old men”, and it was said that the Portland police regularly brought her men that had been arrested for drunkenness. Needing a place in the country where her aged wards could do physical labor and restore their health, she acquired a piece of land above Scappoose in 1919. Apparently, she and her “down and out” men built an impressive three story shake-sided building on the logged-off land" (http://www.foresthiker.com/?p=2415)
We have shelter and food programs for the homeless, although I don't think it is enough for the growing population. Every bridge and overpass I encounter has a village of tents beneath them. I see literally hundreds if not thousands of homeless living under bridges and off to the sides of roads everyday.  
Now that minimum wage is begin raised, perhaps this would be a good time to find menial work for people wanting to raise their standard of living? Perhaps a barter? Manual labor for room and board?

Maybe this is being discussed. But my heart hurts today.  The homeless have been tugging at my heart for a long time now.  Years ago, I was just one paycheck away from homelessness almost on a monthly basis.  We survived, thanks to a patient landlord and kindhearted friends. But there were some frightening moments.

If basic needs are not being met, what kind of life does one have?  And the pride of self sufficiency and a job well done, does wonders to one's confidence.  

Just my two cents. But I wonder what the future holds?  Each of these people I encounter is a child of God.  Not rubbish to be discarded.  

In the immortal words of Jesus: 
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40
 

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