I recently learned of a situation involving homeless people that raised some interesting questions. A certain church provides services to homeless people in its community. These services include free meals, a second-hand closet from which clothing can be obtained at no charge, showers on Saturdays, and rides to the local employment office. The church recently got a new pastor. As part of familiarizing himself with his duties, the new pastor began observing the homeless men who come to his church for meals, clothes, and Saturday showers.
Over time he began to notice a pattern. The same men showed up for their free food, clothing, and showers repeatedly, but these men never seemed to take advantage of the free rides to the local employment office provided by the church. Further, the pastor began to notice the same men standing at various heavily-trafficked street corners around town displaying signs containing such messages as “Homeless—Please Help.” He also noticed several of the men who frequented his church’s homeless center coming out of liquor stores at the end of the day carrying bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. Another interesting thing he noticed was that several of his church’s homeless regulars carried cell phones. Disturbed by what he was seeing, the pastor decided to talk with some of these homeless men. What he learned caused him to seriously question his church’s approach to providing assistance for the homeless.
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