Don't worry. I am not homeless and never have been. Thank the Lord!
But there are many who face homelessness. Some by their own choice. Others due to issues and circumstances of life. Homelessness is a real issue across America. We see it regularly here in Jacksonville.
Ronald Mathis has been homeless for several years. He came to our church back in 2010. He left to live in Tallahassee, FL, for a period of time and then returned to Jacksonville in the middle of 2011. He lived in city parks and different parts of our city not far from our church. We tried to get him to go to shelters that we help sponsor that take in the homeless, but he would not go.
He had been a worker in West Palm Beach, Fl, for a company for over 23 years and was laid off. That threw him, and even though he had family there he couldn't over it.
He never missed church. Always worshipped God. Had a great, loving smile. He was always pleasant. But he was homeless.
Now I believe that we need to live in a personally responsible way. We should work so we can eat. If we don't work, then we don't eat. Work is good. Work gives value, purpose, and meaning. I believe in a hand up not a handout. I don't believe in enabling wrong living or bad choices. That doesn't help anyone.
Having said that, God does instruct us to help the poor and show kindness. That is always proper. I believe God blesses cups of cold water giving in His name. Those cups of water come in all kinds of expressions of love.
In our church that love and cups of cold water was demonstrated in helping Ron Mathis out of his homeless condition. Our people have helped love him back into life. It is a long story, but Sunday I prayed with Ron and blessed him as he is now returning to loving family in West Palm Beach to start again in life. We helped pull him out of a dark place with no love, no shelter, no warm bed, no food, and no hope.
From a personal standpoint, I really love spending my time on the proactive, preventive side of teaching, training, and blessing families to live in a God honoring, faithful way. I love teaching God's Word and all of its truth to point people to a better life that keeps them from ever straying into brokenness. I love pointing people in a direction far from the pig's pen of sin and its destructive powers. I love working to keep them from ever straying to the pig's pen. That's my personal goal.
But sometimes we help the fallen brother. We extend our hand to the one down and out.
I asked Ron as we began a process of helping him to better life if he wanted to get of of where he was. He said yes. He wanted to return home to his family which consisted of his mother, sister, and extended family members.
You see, the father of the prodigal son did not go get the prodigal out of the pig pen. But once the son wanted out, the father took him back and blessed him and gave him a new start.
That is what we did with Ron on Sunday. He wanted out of the pig pen. We gave him a helping hand. One special lady, Annette Campbell and her husband Gary, led the way. They and so many others blessed him and helped him up. It has been an incredible journey of love. We had a lunch with many who had helped him. It was a great celebration. Ron was new man. He smelled new. He looked new. He was happy.
Ron is on his way. Princess, his niece, from West Palm Beach came up and was in church Sunday. They headed South after the lunch and prayer. Ron is no longer homeless. He is loved and He is on his way to a better life. Praise God!