As a church God has opened the doors to serve those who have fallen on hard times in our community. Numerous people have been asking questions, both within the church and outside the church. Over the decades many churches have attempted several ways to engage or not engage the homeless in their community. It seems that all too often the response is to ignore the homeless and go about a persons normal day. Other churches have spent time and money meeting the immediate needs without addressing the longer term needs. Then there are churches who have dedicated time, resources, and property to rehabilitating and supporting people in need and watched them flourish back to self sustainability.
Where is FBC Ferguson on this issue? A book that has been highly helpful in thinking through the topic of helping the hurting is entitled, “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. This book lays out that most of the time churches address immediate relief needs without ever going behind that step. Immediate relief is food when there is a national emergency. It is shelter when the power has been knocked out. It is meeting the need in the midst of crisis. This step is meant to be temporary and provided during the time that people are unable help themselves. The second phase this book proposes is rehabilitation. To put it simply relief stops the bleeding and rehabilitation is working with people to help return them to their precrisis conditions. There is more beyond this but for now it is best to contemplate where FBC Ferguson is at.
The Staff prepared a meal for the homeless that have been around the property. The staff took time to hear stories and circumstances that led to these men and women being in the situation that currently find themselves in. On thing is certain, we cannot turn a blind eye. Helping those who are hurting will be for many in our church uncharted territory. Rejoice that God has and continues to open pathways to relationship and actionable ways to help those in need. The elders and staff will be processing on where we go from here but for now, we will do what we can to aid these sweet people in moving forward to regain what they all once had. One thing has become clear, there is not quick fix and life on life ministry is messy. Pray for the church, and pray about your involvement in restoring lives to their precrisis state.
To clarify, the homeless around the property know what we ask of them. We have asked that they not ask for money. Drug use will constitute an immediate removal from the property with the police notified. Each morning the gazebo is to be cleaned up and their bedding placed in the small alcove by the office door. If there are any concerns please reach out to the staff and elders as we continue to walk through and develop a plan.