Winter Outreach and Christ Church Cathedral hosted an event about homelessness in Downtown St Louis last night. I was invited as one of the panelists. I found it very positive and helpful. I was seated right next to Brad Waldrop, a property owner who is one of over 150 of those behind the petition to remove my church’s (New Life Evangelistic Center) hotel permit to shelter the homeless. The hearing on September 24 with the STL Board of Public Service was not brought up at all. Instead we talked about coming together in new and positive ways.
Here is an audio file of the panelist remarks at Christ Church Cathedral last night:
Here are further thoughts, sorry they’re all in caps like I’m shouting.
INSTEAD OF EXCUSES WHY WE CAN’T. . .
INSTEAD OF PATTING OURSELVES ON THE BACK. . .
INSTEAD OF CUTTING SERVICES TO FOLLOW FEDERAL GRANT FUNDING. . .
LET’S TALK ABOUT WHO WE ARE
LET’S TALK ABOUT WHAT WILL WORK
LET’S TALK ABOUT AN END TO CRIMINALIZATION, HARRASSMENT, FUDGING NUMBERS, DISCRIMINATION, AND WHAT SOMEONE OR SOME OTHER GROUP NEEDS TO DO.
THERE IS SO MUCH WE CAN BEGIN DOING THAT ENDS THE WAR ON THE IMPOVERISHED AND THAT FOCUSES ON HUMANIZING AND EMPOWERING PEOPLE.
WE ALL KNOW THE EXCUSES. WE ALL KNOW THE PROBLEMS. LET’S GET TO FUNDING TRANSPORTATION, HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS, SMALLER ROTATING SHELTERS, AND LET’S STOP THINKING IT’S SOMEONE ELSE’S JOB. NO ONE WANTS THE LIABILITY OF SERVING PEOPLE FOR FREE. THERE IS NO GUARANTEED RETURN IN THE INVESTMENT OF FREE HOSPITALITY. THE ONLY GUARANTEE IS TROUBLE. WHEN YOU START YOUR INVESTMENTS WITH THE THOUGHT OF RETURN YOU’LL NEVER RISK THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU YOURSELF BELONG TO HUMANITY. RISK THE POSSIBILITY THAT OTHERS NEED PROTECTION, UNDERSTANDING, REST, AND DIGNITY JUST AS YOU DO.
PEOPLE WITHOUT MONEY THESE DAYS LACK SO MUCH MORE THAN BUYING POWER. THEY LACK PROTECTION. THEY LACK THE MEANS TO SURVIVE. FINALLY, THEY BECOME CRIMINALIZED FOR SLEEPING OR BEING IN PUBLIC PLACES AT NIGHT. ST LOUIS HAS NO LAWS BANNING CAMPING OR SITTING OR SLEEPING IN PUBLIC. BUT JUST YOU TRY IT.
THE ANSWER IS TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW MANY HERE ARE IN THIS SPOT OR EASILY COULD BE. THE ANSWER IS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY BECAUSE WE’RE TIRED OF MAKING EXCUSES.
EVERY STRANGER HAS A GIFT TO BRING. EVERY HUMAN HAS SOMETHING TO SHARE BY BEING ALIVE. PEOPLE ARE NOT PROBLEMS, THEY ARE WORLDS.
“[God] who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
SINCE CHILDHOOD I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT TO WELCOME STRANGERS. THERE IS NOTHING STRANGER THAN A HUMAN BEING. WE SPEAK AND ACT IN WAYS THAT MAKE NO SENSE. BUT WE ARE REMINDED THAT WE ALL AT ONE TIME BEEN A STRANGER SOMEWHERE, ALIEN, VULNERABLE, AND THAT FOR THIS REASON WELCOMING AND SECURING OTHERS IS OUR TRUST.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ALONE IN THE WOODS AND FOUND A MARKER THAT KEPT YOU FROM GETTING LOST? IT DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THERE, BUT IT WAS. AND YOU WERE GRATEFUL. IF YOU WERE EVER GRATEFUL FOR SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE WHO GAVE YOU CONFIDENCE THAT YOU WERE NOT ALONE IN THE WORLD, UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CAN ALSO DO THIS FOR OTHERS. WHY SHOULD YOU? BECAUSE YOU ARE HERE. WHAT SORT OF COMMUNITY DO YOU WANT?