Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Loving Our Neighbors

While watching the news last night, I heard this little blurb about a church in downtown Dallas reaching out to the homeless, and I was struck by how well they are extending the hand of Jesus to these vulnerable children of God.

After the city made it illegal for the homeless to sleep on the sidewalks in September, the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas opened its parking lot to anyone who wanted to gather there at night. They not only allowed the homeless to sleep there, they spent $6,000 a month to provide portable toilets, lighting and security for them as well.

As of tonight though, the homeless will be staying indoors. The city has agreed to extend the hours of the Day Resource Center to include overnight guests. They will take the homeless on a first come-first serve basis, directing any others to different shelters in the area. It’s a temporary solution, as Dallas will be opening a new multi-million dollar assistance center for the homeless in the spring.

The First Presbyterian Church is not unfamiliar with serving the homeless. On its website, it states that “It is important to us to position ourselves as a beacon of light in downtown Dallas and to reach out to those in need.” They have run a soup kitchen called “The Stewpot” for years which does more than just hand out warm food. It is a resource center where the poor and homeless and other at-risk individuals can come to have access to a dental and medical clinic, drug and alcohol counseling, a children’s day camp in the summer, a computer lab, and even a mail drop.

When I was homeless, I remember being advised to go to The Stewpot, although I never made it there. I didn’t realize that it was run by a church. It shouldn’t surprise me when I see news reports like this. It should be the norm. But with all the abductions, murders, and thefts that overwhelmingly dominate the local news reports, I found it wonderfully refreshing to see that a church is taking care of its community in such a tangible way. And in such a visible way that the local news station would deem it newsworthy. May we all strive to love our neighbors as well as they do.

Proverbs 31:20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Isaiah 25:4 You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.

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