Starting A Homeless Ministry
By David J. Stewart | Updated October 2012
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD...” —Proverb 19:17
Starting a Homeless Ministry is one of the simplest, easiest and most rewarding ministries to have. Every church should have an outreach ministry to the homeless in their local community. It is churches, and not the government, who ought to be helping the needy.
The Lord asks Christian believers to help the poor, visit the prisoners and reach the lost with the Gospel. It is our responsibility. Although we can't help everybody, we can certainly help somebody in the Lord.
There are many different ways to help the homeless, ranging from simply providing them with a free packaged-meal and some Gospel literature, to going as far as providing a shelter for them to temporarily lodge for the night to escape the brutal cold. I would definitely recommend giving out blankets, gloves, hats and warm clothing during the winter months.
It is heartbreaking to see someone living in a cardboard box in an alley as a makeshift home. It is common in big cities to see the homeless living down in the subways, away from the chilling winter winds, or sleeping on heated sidewalk air vents from nearby skyscrapers. The homeless are often shunned, despised and inhumanly treated by business owners. They are often beaten, bullied and robbed. Where are the poor to go?
BIBLICAL MANDATE TO HELP THE POOR
“But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” —1st John 3:17
Homeless people are dear to the heart of God. Most people today are selfish, having a nice place to live, and only think about themselves. As Christians, we ought to be different from the unsaved world, exemplifying the Lord in our daily lives. The Bible teaches us in Philippians 2:4-5 . . . “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Jesus was always thinking about helping OTHERS, which is what Philippians 2:4-5 says we are to do also. We ought to constantly look for opportunities to do things to help those in need. The hallmark character trait of being a Christian is genuine concern for others.
“Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).
“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psalm 82:3).
“Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).
“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverb:14:31).
“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverb:31:9).
These are just a few of the multitudes of Scriptures that command us to help the poor and needy.
Make Christmas A Special Time Of Helping The Homeless
SOULWINNING AND THE POOR
Helping the homeless must NEVER take precedence over preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ . . . “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing ... Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1st Corinthians 13:3,6). The word “charity” here means LOVE. 1st Corinthians 13:6 tells us that genuine Biblical LOVE rejoices in THE TRUTH.
Sadly, many apostate religious groups today such as the Salvation Army have compromised their convictions, spending most of their time helping the needy at the expense of preaching the truth. What does it matter if we feed the hungry, cloth the naked and shelter the homeless if they die and go to Hell because we failed to preach the Gospel to them? I wouldn't give you a dime for any ministry that is not aggressively preaching the Gospel and placing the truth of God's Word at the forefront of their ministerial efforts. This is critically important.
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5).
“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).
Soulwinning is every believer's duty. There is no calling to be a soul-winner. It is a command for every believer. God said in Luke 14:23 that He wants His house “filled.” The Bible commissions us to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” One of the biggest problems with most churches today is that they meet behind closed doors a few times a month, but never obey the Lord's command to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in.” Many churches operate more like a secret occult organization than they do a New Testament church. What behind those church walls? How will people know if you don't have outreach ministries?
If we are to obey the Lord's command to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in,” then we must “Go out.” This means putting forth a conscious effort to reach the lost for Christ. In Acts 20:20 (often referred to as the soulwinner's 20/20 vision) the Apostle Paul went soulwinning HOUSE-TO-HOUSE publicly . . . “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house.” That is God's method of winning souls—public evangelism.
The foremost concern when dealing with the homeless should always be your own safety. It is a matter of common sense. ALWAYS have someone with you if possible. It is unwise to minister alone in today's society. I have discovered that some people on the streets are mentally-ill. Whereas in the old days the mentally-ill were kept in mental institutions, now their families dump then on the streets and they collect social security or veteran's benefits.
Some have epileptic attacks and serious health issues. Others are psychotic and schizophrenic. They can't function in society and so they end up the outcasts, rejects and unwanted on the streets. Some are drug-addicts and alcoholics.
Many of the homeless, especially alcoholics, freeze to death in colder climates. The alcohol fools the body—making you feel warm while helping the freezing process. Some are medicated. Hundreds live in the storm drains under the billion-dollar Las Vegas casinos. Yet, they need to know that God loves them. They are troubled in their souls. Can you imagine wheeling everything you own in the world down the street in a basket cart? They are people whom Christ died for. Everyone is somebody's son or daughter.
This documentary is heartbreaking about the elderly and poor living in cages in China...
Chinese Elderly And Families Survive In Cages In Hong Kong (they're called 'coffin dwellers')
It's also recommended to minister in the daytime only, preferably in known areas where homeless people reside. Personal safety must always come first. That's one of the reasons why the Lord told us to go in pairs I believe. It might be helpful to speak with other ministries in the area. Never trespass on private property or enter into secluded areas that may compromise your safety.
Also, be aware of the reputation of the neighborhood you're in. Every major city has certain areas that are just too dangerous for ladies and children to enter into. Avoid high crime areas. If you do enter into such areas, keep in mind that there's more safety in numbers. The goal is to reach the poor for Christ and meet some of their basic necessities without getting mugged in the process.
If you meet a homeless person who you feel needs medical attention, call 911 for them. It's not recommended to let them ride in your own vehicle, unless you have a partner with you. However, even if you have a ministry partner, NEVER allow someone of the opposite sex to enter into your vehicle. You can't be too careful these days. The Bible admonishes us to be careful . . .
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverb 22:3).
“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1st Thessalonians 5:22).
Also, it's never wise to wear expensive jewelry or watches when in public.
If you come across any stray dogs that look threatening, reach down as if you are going to pick up a rock. This scars away nearly all dogs. It really works. I guess they know from experience.
Matthew 25:35, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.”
FOOD MANAGER'S LICENSE IS NEEDED TO PREPARE MEALS FOR HOMELESS
Without a food manager's license, you cannot legally prepare homemade food for the homeless (which I think is absolutely ridiculous). Most mid-to-bigger-sized cities don't care if the poor die on the streets. We've lost our sanity and compassion in America. If the city doesn't do anything and someone gets sick, then lawyers sue the city for not doing anything. It's greedy lawyers who are the problem, looking for anyone with deep pockets to sue. Lawyers are the scum of society and have ruined America. Numerous books have been written on the subject, including THE CASE AGAINST LAWYERS by Katherine Crier. Americans are forced to hire greedy lawyers by a rigged and evil court system, and then people are expected to appreciate being bilked and financially ravished.
Lawyers are like bank robbers who return a small portion of the money to the bank, so they can feel honest about themselves. There's nothing honest about lawyers nor the corrupt legal system in America. The reason why poor people are dying on the streets and people can't feed them without lots of bureaucracy is because of greedy lawyers. If there's a group of people that Isaiah 5:14 applies to (hell hath enlarged herself), it's for attorneys. It was the same in Bible times. Jesus said, “Woe unto ye lawyers!” (Luke 11:46). You can tell when a lawyer is lying if his lips are moving.
WHAT TO GIVE THE HOMELESS
I RARELY give more than a dollar or so to people who ask; but I often give $10 to $20 and food to poor looking folks who don't ask. If they are asking me, I don't know if they're sincere or not; but if I'm offering something to them, and they're not asking, then I know they're sincere. I look for homeless people everywhere I go and keep a stack of The Gospel of John in my car to give them with some money inside. Homeless people are dear to the heart of God.
A lot of people condemn giving money to the poor on the basis that they'll go buy alcohol or that they're insincere. That's why I choose who I give money to instead of waiting for them to come to me. When people ask for money, I keep spare change in my pocket and give them a little change, but it's less than a dollar. They thank me. However, when I see a poor person and I choose to give them money, I make it $20 and a Gospel of John. That's how I do it. Unless I suspect alcohol or drugs, I generally always give people something, even if it's a quarter when they ask.
It's good to get into the habit of giving. When I was younger I didn't care enough to look for homeless people to help. And I hardly ever gave anything to people who asked, because I thought they were all bums. As I've grown older I've realized that, except it were for the grace of God, I'd be homeless myself. I may be homeless tomorrow. I don't know. I heard someone say that their future is so bright they have to wear sunglass. I replied that my future is so grim that I have to wear night-vision goggles. I live in agonizing pain 24/7 because of disk problems in my neck. The surgery failed to help in the least. People don't understand why I'm so miserable. As I once heard the saying, “Life is what happens to you when you're making big plans.” So true! I've never loved homeless people so much. There's nothing in this world that I need or want, just give me Jesus.
When I was in West Los Angeles, California for my neck surgery in 2009, I gave a little change away to a man who asked for some money, and then I didn't have enough change to ride the bus. I was 25 cents short. I was mad at myself because I had to walk quite a distance to get more change. But you know, I'd rather be this way than a greedy person who never gives anything to anyone and dies a miserable person. My reward is in Heaven. I plan to keep giving, that is, after I get on the bus (lol). My Bible says you CANNOT serve God and mammon (wealth). It's impossible. The difference between the two mindsets is staggering!
I knew a couple that were so money-hungry that they wouldn't even leave a nice tip after a meal. They are consumed with making their next dollar. The are jealous of anyone who has anything, because they want it all. It's so sad and sinful. Their minds are clouded with the love of money. Every dollar counts to them and they dare not let one escape. My afflictions have changed my entire view of life and everything. Money means absolutely nothing to me.
The mind who loves God is vastly different from the mind that only loves wealth, pleasures and the cares of this world. Jesus warned about these hindrances to soul-winning in Luke 8:14-15. People who care about money DON'T care about the things of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:4-5, 20-21). My afflictions are a blessing from the Lord in that they humble me daily (Psalm 119:67, 71). I just have to be careful not to allow my sufferings to overwhelm me with grief and depression. I have a ministry of suffering. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
If I see a homeless person and can afford it, I usually give them $10 to $20 inside a Gospel Booklet of John (these are T.C. Horton editions of the Gospel of John, which contain much helpful information for soul-winners. T.C. Horton was a faithful Bible teacher at Moody Bible Institute in the early years before they went neo-evangelical.
I also love to pass out the small booklet, 'SALVATION PLAIN AND SIMPLE' by Dr. Curtis Hutson. They come in packs of 50 for around $3.50 (ISBN 0-87398-803-5)from The Sword Of The Lord (ISBN: 0-87398-803-5) in Tennessee.
I have a few of the originals from 1922. These Gospels of John are a homeless person's best friend. They mean everything to a person who has nothing.)
It is best not to give money to the homeless if they are in an area known for crime, and you think they may be at risk, it just makes them more vulnerable to be robbed.
Unfortunately, some of them will spend the money on alcohol. If I see an alcohol bottle or smell liquor, then I don't give them any money. I don't want to add to their problems. Alcohol is dangerous. Tragically, many homeless people freeze to death during the winter months. The alcohol makes them feel warm, even though they are freezing to death, and they die. Each situation is different and unique. I knew personally of two different men in Chicago who died this way. I hate booze!
Consider what items you would likely need if you were homeless. It's a good idea to assemble some basic necessity gift packages, containing perhaps some of the following items:
New Testament Bible (the Gospel of John would be ideal)
doctrinally sound Gospel literature (which use only the King James Bible)
gloves, socks, earmuffs, scarf and blanket (during winter)
Vienna hotdogs in a can (with easy open lid)
pre-cooked, easy-open foods
Soft snack foods (many of the homeless have dental problems)
Snackables (cheese and crackers)
fresh fruit, nuts, a few pieces of wrapped candy
A couple small packs of Advil
chapstick or lip-balm
hand-lotion for dry-skin
toothpaste and toothbrush
McDonalds gift certificates
Addresses and phone numbers of nearest helpful shelters (enclose $1 in change for phone calls)
Addresses and phone numbers of nearest caring and doctrinally sound churches
a handwritten note of kindness (it may simply be a brief note; e.g., “given in Jesus' name”)
It's helpful to place all these items in some type of cloth carrying pack that they can continue using.
a small pillow (“...the Son of man hath not where to lay his head,” Matthew 8:20) . . .
“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.” —Proverb 14:31
“And of some have compassion, making a difference.” —Jude 22
“He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.”
A homeless ministry is something that anyone can do. But by the grace of God, we would all be homeless. This life is so short and we'll be in eternity before we know it. I don't know about you, but I want to spend the remainder of my life helping others in Jesus' name, so that I may please the Lord.
Matthew 25:40, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
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