They Come with the Building

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who are the they you ask?

The cons.

The homeless.

The mentally ill.

The abused.

After you've had your last service in your home or hotel and you're in your building you can expect these souls to show up at your church's doorstep.

The Cons
Some of the stories are so over the top you know immediately that there's not a shred of truth to what they're saying. But they will press you hard for your cash and say whatever they need too to get you to part with it. We found more times than not drug use was at the root of these elaborate stories.

We encountered one woman who claimed to have run from an abusive situation with her children from another state. We never saw the children. They were always with someone else which we found odd since she was new to the city. We called the shelter where she was supposedly moved to by police escort just to validate her story. Someone at the shelter confirmed her story but it still didn't sit right. We used a bit of wisdom and only parted with some household items and a few groceries. She came a few times and again never with the kids and then we never heard from her again. We tried to followup but to no avail.

The lesson here is to use wisdom. Validate and confirm stories if you can and follow the Holy Spirit's leading. I know some churches and pastors never give out cash. Having a stash of gift cards for gas, groceries, fast food restaurants, etc. may be a far better option.

The Homeless and the Mentally Ill
At our first Hallelujah Night celebration, I'll never forget the lady who was told by the maintenance crew to stay in the bushes in front of the church for the night since she had no where to go. Apparently she had just gotten off a Greyhound bus and was trying to find family here in Houston. Her mental health wasn't stable and after the service we started calling around to different shelters to see if they could take her in.

That's when I learned the important lesson of keeping a list of nearby shelters handy. That day I also discovered that all the shelters in the area had a 5 p.m. check in time and if you weren't in by then you were forced to sleep on the street. So we paid for her to stay in a nearby motel for the night, bought her a meal and for that she was extremely grateful.

After that experience we introduced ourselves to assistance ministries and shelters in the area. We also mapped out all the motels within a five-mile radius of the church too. We didn't have the capacity to take these people in and needed to know where to direct them when they showed up at our doorstep.

The Abused
This is a very real issue in the church today. Women who are battered by their husbands, boyfriends will call on you for help. You'll need to direct them to a safe place. And know that even if you lead them to a safe place, sometimes they go back to their abusers or they enter new relationships with the same type of man. Sometimes they do the hard work of looking inward and allow Holy Spirit to change them and heal them.

In all these instances it's important to show the love of Christ and exercise wisdom and discernment.

I highly suggest you compile your own list of motels, homeless shelters and women shelters when you do finally crossover into your own building. Because the hurting in your community come with the building.

Be blessed,

Pastor Lisa


Karla Meachem September 20, 2008 at 9:56 AM  

Excellent advice! Thanks for sharing! I've made a note of this for our church. It's always better to be prepared for situations that may arise.

Pastor Lisa September 20, 2008 at 10:37 AM  

Thanks Karla. And it may not be a bad idea to get a list of Christian counselors that you can refer people out to as well.

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