32 beds or 34 it doesn’t matter. That’s what this federal case all comes down to in the eyes of the city and the interveners. The interveners maintain that NLEC applied for a permit in 1976 for 32-34 beds and that it was wrong to ever go over that number without applying for more. It’s a technicality. They maintain this has nothing to do with the homeless or social justice or where people will sleep or even NLEC as a church. They also maintain that NLEC should not have more than 32 persons. If it got down to 32 all its problems would go away. In focusing on that number they hope to win all battles. Nevermind that NLEC has a history with the city of inspections and documents for nearly 40 years. If they get a judge to agree its about one number they figure they win.
But what would this city look like if NLEC had complied all these years? How many would have never been impacted with hope and a future? As a minister I don’t relativize bodies assuming they find help somewhere. I don’t rely on United Way or Salvation Army to minister. I don’t assume that for the sake of “quality of life” that sending someone away will improve their situation.
In this matter I believe that doing less and believing better will come IS the problem and is disobedient to God.
In the 1980s the city claimed through the harshest winters there was no homeless problem.
In the 2000s the homeless couldn’t prove residency to get service.
Just this year the city claims it is the region’s largest advocate for the homeless, providing nearly all services.
What if NLEC had never been involved? Would the homeless be better off?
I can’t see that as an option. My whole life has been filled with family on my life journey with people who had no roof of their own. The experiences of those being mugged, beaten, murdered, stigmatized, and ignored as homeless has always loomed in my past and present.
They want us to shrug and walk away. Churches have been doing it for years. The city, counties, and region can do it. Why can’t NLEC? There’s the calling, the God factor, the human factor, and the hope factor.
We won’t shrug and walk away because Jesus is Risen and our suffering is redeemed.