Friday, October 31, 2008

God Provides... Again

Last week we weren’t able to pay our bills—two of them overdue. Actually, my cell phone got cut off. I prayed to the Lord about getting us money for our bills. He responded immediately by having one of our accounts go under with a 30 dollar fee. Later that week, He provided us with 400 dollars in the pushka.

However, this happens pretty frequently. Last year the house was out of groceries, and I was praying pretty hard for God to provide immediately. Diver goes out that morning for his daily dumpster run, and senses that he needs to go north instead of east, his usual direction. He ends up at a Fred Meyers, where the dumpster was full of boxed frozen food, just dumped that morning. He filled up his bike trailer and filled our freezers.
Then I received a call from a brother I hadn’t heard from for a year. He said that he needed to see me that day. We met a couple hours later where he gave me $200 cash. If he had given me a check we wouldn’t have been able to get groceries for two days, as it was a Saturday. As it was, I was able to go out that afternoon and fill our fridges and cupboards.
Of course, the groceries only lasted less than a week. Darn those teenage boys!

Another time last year, earlier in the year, we needed two hundred dollars—a hundred and eleven to pay our electricity bill—we were already past due to be shut off— and the rest to pay our phone bill. I told our need to our homeless and disability-dependent congregation. An unorganized offering was taken and we received exactly a hundred and eleven dollars. We were able to just avoid having our electricity being shut off. Later that week, we received another gift to cover the phone bill.

These are just relatively recent occurrences. This is pretty regular. We pray, and usually without us letting anyone know, God provides by nudging people by His Spirit.

So, if you ever thought about having a ministry to the poor, but didn’t have a means to take care of your basic needs—don’t worry, God will care for you. Just pray and depend on Him.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Praying for the Poor

One of the main pushes of the Micah Project is to pray for those in
poverty throughout the world. This stirred my thinking-- I pray a lot
for those in my community in need, but rarely for those around the
world unless a specific group catches my attention.

This month, my family and I have been praying for different groups in
poverty-- one each night. Some of the groups we prayed for were:

The needy in Bangaldesh, who are at the forefront of being wiped out
if the sea levels rise.
The suffering in Columbia, who stand up against oppressors and drug
The needy in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Palestinians.
The homeless and mentally ill in North America.
Those suffering from AIDS in Africa.
Today, we will be praying for those who have suffered through the
earthquake in Pakistan.

Something to think about!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fun and Ministry

A week ago Tuesday, Anawim had Johnny Cash night. We played Johnny Cash music, and showed the movie, Walk the Line. It was awesome. We had our largest attendance—70 people. And it was a blast.

Pleasure is one of the basic needs of humanity. Without a sense of pleasure, we move into deep depression, have no motivation for life and could possibly commit suicide.

God is all for having a good time. I often talk about the tithe of Deuteronomy 14, where the landowners are to take ten percent of all they earned that year (all grain, livestock, money, etc), and spend it on one huge party before the Lord, that all the poor and the community is invited to. God COMMANDS his people to have a good time and to blow a wad of cash. That’s cool.

Jesus’ ministry was to go from one town to another, preaching the gospel. What’s rarely spoken of, though, is that everywhere Jesus went there was a party, in which he was the guest of honor. Jesus was the original party animal. This is how come Jesus was called a “glutton” by his enemies.

It is not only okay to have a party, but God requires us to.

For this reason, it is important in Anawim to have humor and enjoyment in as much of our lives as we can. If we were as somber as our calling, we would fail our calling.

And it isn’t enough for us to just crack a joke at a beginning of a sermon. Fun should be woven into the fabric of all that we do. If we don’t enjoy it, no one else will, either. We need to seek the pleasure, so we can share it.

It is depressing enough to be homeless. We should make coming to church a bright spot in a poor person’s day.

Related to this, Anawim is trying to raise some money so we can provide art supplies for the folks on the street so they can worship God through paint, drawing and collage. If you’d like to help us in this, let us know.

Reverse Prejudice

We just had a guest speaker a few weeks ago. And frankly, I didn’t like what he said, and especially how he said it. It was just so “Christianese” – lingo that has long since become cliché. He made a couple good points, and they were good, important, even. He was sincere, and lived out what he was teaching. But the form made it difficult for me to listen to.

I spoke to a new guy on the scene—he’s pretty young—and he told me what I thought: that the message wasn’t very good, that it was in a form he couldn’t hear. Then I was debating within myself as to whether I should let him back to speak again.

But God spoke to me and said, “It takes all types to minister to different people.” So I asked more folks about their opinion of our guest. The folks on the street really appreciated his message and thought it was great. It really ministered the gospel to them. I was shocked, and I realized my own limitation.

Many of us in “on the edge” ministries have a reverse prejudice. We feel the prejudice against the outcast so readily, that we often forget that there’s nothing wrong with mainstream ministry as well. It’s all style, all culture. The question is not right or wrong—it is whether people are communicating the gospel.

I have had people so limited by one denomination or one style of ministry that they think that ministry cannot be done in any other way. I am often decrying that. But I have to warn myself against the same attitude. I cannot reject any ministry based on cultural presuppositions. Jesus crosses all culture. And—dare I say it—Jesus can even be found in stereotypical Christian lingo.

God save me from my unknown prejudices.

Some Lessons I Learned From The Homeless

1. God will provide to anyone who asks Him for help

2. Money isn’t necessary, meeting our needs are—and these two things are almost never the same

3. We all have mental weaknesses, and to be a benefit to others, we have to recognize those weaknesses and find ways to sidestep them.

4. We ignore social rules when we feel we need something. Thus, it is better to determine to lessen our list of “needs”

5. When we are too busy, we don’t have time to do what God wants of us

6. Our society requires too much of us for basic necessities. On minimum wage, 40 hours of work a week isn’t enough for a place to live, food and toiletries. For some, it is better to live on the street rather than be enslaved to impoverished employment.

7. There are basic needs we should provide for everyone, no matter how bad they are: food, water, clothing, basic hygiene, a place to go to the bathroom, basic shelter, protection from extreme weather. If we have the ability to provide these needs, yet fail in this, whether the one in need is good or evil, lazy or hard-working, crazy or sane, loving or bitter, then we, who are in authority, are the worst people who have ever lived.

8. We can make excuses to torture people, if we think they are “bad” enough. We will think it is okay to steal people’s possessions, to take away their sleep, to starve them, to take away their meager shelter, to deprive them of their sanity, to make them fear for their lives, simply because they live a lifestyle that we consider inappropriate.

9. An authoritative moral cop with the ability to punish is bad for any society. They end up punishing not only criminals, but anyone who is feared, even if there is nothing to fear.

10. No one is an island—we all need others. Those without others go insane.

11. Everyone works to meet their needs. Some work in a job. Some recycle cans. Some walk long distances and stand in lines for disability or a free meal. Some hold a sign in poor weather conditions for handouts. The real question is: what work does God have in store for us?

12. Shelter or food or clothing is not the most basic need. Faithful companionship is.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Justice III

Lord, it seems that I, too, am an oppressor.
Can it be? Am I not your child?
Yet in the ways I oppress, I am not like you.
For you, O God are gracious.
For you, O God are compassionate.
For you, O God are slow to anger.
For you, O God are abounding in love.

But I, I still
manipulate and control and act aggressively toward those under me
from my children to my employees.
I abuse the vast resources you have given me
and thus steal from my poor brokers.
I support oppressors of the poor and underprivileged
by buying their products.
I close off my home, my money and my time
from the poor you have told me to give to.

Dear Lord, forgive me.
Cleanse me of my sin.
I open myself up to you.
Reveal to me my evil ways.
Show me, Lord, how to change them.
Through your Spirit, enliven your righteousness within me.
Teach me living justice;
Teach me holy walking;
Train me in the ways of your kingdom:
the ways of peace
the ways of mercy
the ways of justice
the ways of forgiveness
Lest I, too, O Lord, am judged by you.

Take away the disgrace I dread.
Take away the acts of tyranny.
And replace my old ways with the ways of your Son.

Your Kingdom come, O God
Your glorious light shine
Come quickly now

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Not Forget...

Anawim (and Steve Kimes) has a new website.

It has a new look.

It has new content, especially a section about the dehumanization of the homeless.

It has a section completely devoted to what Jesus says about the outcast.

Check it out!

That's "No Where To Lay His Head Dot Org"

Movie Review: The Man Without A Past

"The Man Without A Past" by Aki Kaurismäki

Okay, subtitles and foriegn films may not be everyone's cup of tea. But for those who want to understand the homeless and some of the issues they deal with, this movie is essential.

It is played for the deadest of deadpan humor, but it is brilliantly conceived, and it communicates the sense of a homeless community, both those on the street struggling for survival, and those who assist them.

It doesn't flinch from difficult realities, such as gang attacks, the difficulties of not having id and divorce. Yet it is punctuated by moments of humor when one least expects it.

Highly recommended. The humor gets 3 stars out of 5. The depiction of a homeless community gets 5 stars out of 5.

Find out more:

If The Housed Were Treated Like The Homeless

I have known about the surveys of the homeless to discover their needs for a while now. People are hired to interview the homeless, and ask them what services they would like the city (or the state) to provide for them. I think the idea is wonderful, for then service providers aren’t just assuming themselves what the homeless need, but they are asking directly those with the needs.

But today, I discovered a new angle on this survey: There are teams of three that go out asking questions: a social worker, a medical provider and… well, some other professional type person, I don’t remember who. And the team of three goes out very early in the morning, so they can make sure to find the homeless folks, and they wake them up to ask them the questions. (It’s always good to wake up the sleep deprived to see what services they need…)

Maybe you aren’t as stunned (read: appalled) as I am about this, but perhaps this Pythonesque skit will give you the sense:

Scene: A small, suburban bedroom. There is a large bed in the middle, with George sleeping on one side and Carol on the other. George is wearing striped pajamas, while Carol is wearing a short nightgown, but both are covered by a comforter. A dresser with a filthy mirror is on one side of the bed, with clothes scattered about the floor. The remains of a hurried dinner rests on the dresser as well as a digital alarm clock. The two are in restful slumber, when suddenly there is a knock on the window, on George’s side of the bed.

Mr. Pierce: (Peering in) Hello? (Opens the window and sticks his head in.) Hello?

George: (Groggy) Huh? What… who?

Mr Pierce proceeds to climb in through the window and then falls. He is a tall, professional-looking man with a brown suit coat and a red tie. He holds a clipboard and a pen.

Carol: (Waking suddenly, then screaming, pulling the bedclothes around her) George, who is this?

Mr Pierce stands up and begins to brush himself off.

George: (Angry for Carol’s sake) Well, there, hey! What do you think you’re doing? Get out of my house!

Mr. Pierce: (Standing formally, with a clipboard, addresses himself to George) Hello, there, sir. Sorry to disturb you at this early hour…

George: (Looking at the clock on the dresser) Oh, my… It’s 4am! Who in the hell do you think you are? What are you doing in my house?

Mr. Pierce: As I said, I AM sorry to disturb you, but I am taking a survey of the neighborhood to discover what kind of services you might need.

George stares for a moment, stunned.

Carol: (Still in a panic) Who are these people, George? Is this your idea of a joke?

George: (Upset, but a bit of a pansy) I still don’t understand what you are doing in my house.

Mr. Pierce: As I said, I’m taking a survey of the neighborhood and just need to ask you a few questions.

George: Why didn’t you just knock on the door?

Mr. Pierce: I’m sure you wouldn’t have answered the door this early, Mr. … excuse me, what is your name?

George: Mr. Thomson. George Thomson.

Mr. Pierce: (Writing on his clipboard) Thomson… George. Fine.

Carol: (Upset, poking George) George, why don’t you get rid of these people!

George: See here. Why don’t you just come back during the day, not at this ungodly hour?

Mr. Pierce: Mr. Thomson, surely you understand our position. Do you not work during the day?

George: Well, of course.

Mr. Pierce: Well, then, we couldn’t really come during the day, could we?

George: (Pacified) Oh, I suppose not.

Carol: Well, then, why couldn’t they come see you at work?

George: Yes, why couldn’t you see me at work?

Mr. Pierce: Then we wouldn’t be sure you lived here.

George: Oh, I see. But it IS rather inconvenient…

Mr. Pierce: I appreciate your position, Mr. Thomson, but you see, it’s the only way.

George: (Pacified again) Well, if nothing could be done about it…

Carol: Yes, something could be done about it, you could throw them out!

Mr. Pierce: Are you disturbed, ma’am?

Carol: Yes, I am.

Mr. Pierce: Of course, you don’t have to participate in the survey. You may leave, if you like.

Carol: Leave! I can’t leave! I’m not even dressed!

Mr. Pierce: I would be happy to avert my eyes…

Carol: Get out!

Mr. Pierce: Just as soon as I finish the survey. Now then… (looking at clipboard) Mr. Thomson, how old are you?

George: 35.

Mr. Pierce: (Writing on clip board) Fine. And what is your ID number?

George: 491…

Carol: Don’t you think that’s a bit personal?

Mr. Pierce: It is just a basic question, ma’am. Sir?

George: 491, 327, 45, 49

Mr. Pierce: And could I see your ID, please?

George: Actually, I lost it last week.

Mr. Pierce: Oh, did you? That’s fine. We can help you with that. (Calls out the window) Officer MacDonnal? Could you please come in? (A police officer in full uniform climbs in. He wears dark glasses, speaks in a “Sgt. Friday” voice, and has a pair of handcuffs at his hip.) This is Officer MacDonnal and he’ll help you with your ID issue.

Officer: (Takes out notebook) Sir, ma’am. I just have a few questions to ask you.

Carol: And who let you in? What right do you have? Who said you could come into our bedroom?

Officer: Well, Mr. Pierce did, ma’am.

Carol: And who let Mr. Pierce in?

Officer: It’s all official business, ma’am. We are just here to help.

Carol: What kind of officials are you?

Mr. Pierce: This is all according to city policy, ma’am. Now, while Officer MacDonnel assists Mr. Thomson with the forms, would it be alright if I asked you some questions?

Carol: Why not? Might as well. Not going to get any sleep anyway.

Mr. Pierce: Fine, then. (He flips a page on his clipboard) Could I have your name, then, please?

Carol: Carol Drew.

Mr. Pierce: And your last name is spelled?

Carol: D-R-E-W.

Mr. Pierce: And are you a Miss or a Mrs?

Carol: A Miss.

Mr. Pierce: (Looking up from his clipboard, with eyebrow raised) So you are not married to Mr. Thomson, then?

Carol: (Voice raising) No. And what business is it of yours?

Mr. Pierce: I’m not judging, ma’am, just saying. But this kind of situation might require a health professional. You wouldn’t mind having a doctor ask you a few questions, do you?

Carol: I suppose not. It would be better if the doctor came over at the daytime, however.

Mr. Pierce: No need. (Calling out the window) Dr. Zook, could you please come in? (A woman in a white doctor’s coat with a stethoscope hanging out of the pocket climbs in through the window) Dr. Zook, it seems that we have an issue here.

Dr. Zook: (Looking at Carol) What seems to be the problem?

Carol: There’s no problem! Except I am having trouble sleeping!

Mr. Pierce: Well, you see, Mr. Thomson and Miss Drew…

Dr. Zook: (Nodding) Ah, I see. (Pulls out a clipboard) Miss Drew, if I could ask you a few questions…

Carol: (Flustered) I don’t think so…

Dr. Zook: Please, it will only take a few moments.

Carol: I suppose.

Dr. Zook: First of all, please tell me if you have ever experienced the following: Herpes?

Carol: Which kind? I mean, sometimes I have cold sores…

Dr. Zook: Mm hmm. (writing on clipboard) Positive. What about genital herpes?

Carol: I don’t think so…

Dr. Zook: Have you ever been tested for it?

Carol: No…

Dr. Zook: Well, we can work on that later. What about gonorrhea?

Carol: No.

Dr. Zook: (Looking at the clipboard) Ever been tested for it?

Carol: No.

Dr. Zook: Unknown. Have you ever been raped?

Carol: No!

Dr. Zook: Fine. What about date rape?

Carol: What do you mean?

Dr. Zook: I mean, has ANYONE (she glances at George still speaking to Officer) ever put you in a position where you felt you were sexually compromised?

Carol: I… I don’t think so.

Dr. Zook: Let’s be careful about this, now. Are you sure? I mean, for instance, has Mr. Thomson ever asked you to do something sexually you weren’t comfortable with?

Carol: Well, like what?

Dr. Zook: Anything.

Carol: Well, he brought out this book tonight and wanted me to try these positions and I wasn’t comfortable….

Dr. Zook: Did you tell him you were uncomfortable?

Carol: Well, yes, but…

Dr. Zook: And did he make you perform anyway?

Carol: Well, he didn’t MAKE me…

Dr. Zook: Did you feel coerced?

Carol: Perhaps a bit manipulated…

Dr. Zook
Officer: (together) I think we have a problem.

Mr. Pierce: Officer MacDonnal, you first, please.

Officer: We just discovered that Mr. Thomson is living in this dwelling under false pretenses.

George: That’s not true! I told you, I am staying here while my Uncle is at the coast. He invited me to stay here.

Officer: So this isn’t your house?

George: Right, I told you that. But I have permission.

Officer: I’m not sure about that. I just called your “uncle” and we couldn’t get an answer.

George: Of course not—it’s 4 in the morning!

Officer: That is no excuse under the law. The fact is: you are in a house that doesn’t belong to you. Let me ask you, do you have any place to live?

George: I moved out of my apartment in Maryland. I have moved into town just last week. My uncle is giving me a hand until I settle in.

Officer: So you are a homeless transient, eh? I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave immediately.

George: What do you mean? All my stuff is here!

Officer: What stuff is that?

George: Well, the dresser, the bed… all the furniture in the house.

Officer: Uh huh. Okay, just a second. (Calls out the window) Joe! Yeah, go ahead and get the dump truck over here. We’ll have to trash the whole place.

Joe: (Outside the window) Right away!

Officer: Mr. Thomson, I’m afraid you will have to vacate the premises…

Dr. Zook: Um, officer. I’m afraid there’s another issue…. (Dr. Zook goes over and whispers in the officer’s ear).

Officer: (Facial expression becomes angry and eyes grow large) Is that right? (He walks over to George and throws him against the dresser, knees him in the kidneys, and spins him around. He pulls off the handcuffs off of his hip and cuffs George) You have the right to remain silent, you…

George: (Voice groaning a bit from the pain) Wait! What am I being arrested for?

Officer: Sexual assault 3.

George: Carol, what did you tell them?

Carol: (To Mr. Pierce) Of course, I don’t live here. He seemed so nice at first. I actually live with my parents on the other side of town.

Mr. Pierce: You need to take care who your friends are in the future. Could I arrange a ride for you back to your parents?

Carol: Oh, that would be wonderful.

Mr. Pierce: Here, let me get you a coat to cover you. (He goes to the closet and takes out one of George’s coats and wraps it around Carol) There you are.

Carol: Thank you. I don’t even know what I saw in him really…

Dr. Zook: I was thinking that we could give you a pelvic exam right here in the living room. I have a rape kit right here…

(Dr. Zook leads Carol out of the room)

Officer: Come with me, Thomson. I’ve got a lot of paperwork to fill out now because of you…

George and officer walk out of the room.

Mr. Pierce: (Writing in notebook, reading his text) We found Mr. Thomson city-sponsored housing and Miss Drew received rape counseling and a physical exam. (Looks up from his clipboard) Hmm. I didn’t arrange for Miss Drew to get tested for her sleep disorder. Ah, well, we can’t help everything…

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pray With Us


Pray that Jason will be healed and seek God's power for his life. His heart valves are falling apart and can't be replaced.

Pray that Klip will seek God's help and stay in treatment.

Pray that Bruce, who has recently been diagnosed with liver disease, will get new housing at the end of this month instead of having to live back on the street.

Pray that Linda will find housing before the winter comes.

Pray that Rhonda will survive this winter, as her circulation is so bad that she might freeze to death.

Pray that God will speak to Troll, to Schultz, to Jerry, to Dion, to Sharie, to Pic, to Styx and that they listen so they can live.

Pray that Diver stays sober and on fire for the Lord.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How To End Poverty 4

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This ideal of mine will never happen. Now my cynicism comes out fully. Yes, I think I see how poverty can be ended and I have a plan to do that—heck, I spend many of my waking hours doing just that! But, in my heart of hearts, I don’t think it will work.

The rich elite will still rule, and they don’t give a crap about the poor—at least not as much as their banker friends—and they never will.

The mainstream (read: middle class) will still act according to their own blind prejudices and will still deride and reject anyone who doesn’t live up to their standards.

The poor are so fearful of what little livelihood they have, they will not want to endanger it all by trying to communicate their point of view to the mainstream.

Oh, sure, some will do this. Some will try to change. Some will try to understand the other. But all of history speaks against it happening on a large scale. Even if the outcast DO get a voice and they get heard, they just become the new mainstream, ready to create the new outcast.

So what needs to happen? Honestly, and I say this without any closed-mindedness or humor: We need Jesus.

Jesus isn’t who we think of. We might see Jesus as representing the Christianity that has ruled the West for 1500 years, but he’s not. We might see Jesus as some ancient prophet who said some radical things and then died, but he’s more than that. We might see Jesus as a teacher who healed people and spoke a wonderful message of sappy love. But that’s not him, either.

Jesus is a hard boiled advocate for the outcast. And He’s aiming to be ruler of the world.

He said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the coming nation of God. But woe to you who are rich, because you will get nothing when it comes.”

Jesus looks to create a new utopia, supported by the power of God to assist the outcast who are merciful, and destroying the system of elitism that exists currently.

Jesus is a revolutionary that will destroy all the current governments, corporations, financial institutions and legal systems. Then he will establish a government in which the cream of the crop of the oppressed and outcast will be put in charge of the world, with himself at the head. This new government will not just represent a single form of the outcast, creating a new elite. Rather, it will represent ALL the poor, and the poor of the world will finally get justice.

This is the ideal that Isaiah spoke of, 2800 years ago:
Then a descendent of David will appear and God's Spirit of power will be on him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and power a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. He will not judge by appearance, or determine laws by rumor. But he will be just to the poor and will be fair to the oppressed. And the oppressors will be destroyed by his authority.

Perhaps this approach to ending poverty seems extreme. It certainly is. It means no more second chances for the rulers. No more opportunities to make right. No more mercy for the elite that have been destroying the poor from the beginning of the world. They will all die.

But for the poor, it is the day that they have been waiting for. It is the day when they finally get their say. When they can finally get their due. It is a day when the elite can be told exactly how they have created the poor through their laws, policies and prejudices. It is a day when the poor can live their life in the way it was meant to be lived: at peace, without fear, without rejection.

This is my real hope. I work for the poor in this age. But I really expect nothing to change until Jesus returns.

This is why I pray, along with almost all the church “Thy kingdom come”. I pray this many times a day, as do so many millions of other Christians.

But I know what most of them don’t. That “thy kingdom come” means the destruction of the institutions they depend on. It means the economy failing. It means the governments collapsing. It means all of our sins against those weaker than us being exposed. And I long for that day. As much as it hurts me, I pray for it with all my heart.

How To End Poverty 3

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Okay, let’s get serious about this. How DO we deal with poverty?

First of all, we need to understand what poverty is. There are two main categories of poverty, which greatly overlap. There is the poverty that is being physically destitute. This is the common kind of poverty we think of: people who are hungry, who have no where to live, who have no warmth, who have no safe drinking water, who are wracked by disease. Those who are destroyed because of their lack of physical needs.

The second is like the first: social poverty. This is a state of separation, of rejection, of outcastness. These are the poor who the mainstream culture of one’s society rejects, for one reason or another. Usually, however, they are rejected because they do not accept some major, unwritten law of the mainstream culture. They are too loud or too quiet. They don’t participate fully in the mainstream’s economic system. They don’t look like or dress like the mainstream. They have different cultural presuppositions.

This second class of the poor soon become the first class. They become destitute due to their social standing. And the mainstream feels good about these poor because, “They deserved it. If only they would…” (fill in cultural prejudice here) “… then they could live better.” So the mainstream convinces themselves that the poor are worthy to be poor and they deserve their benefits and judgments.

Another result of this cycle is fear. When one culture separates from another, then they tend to fear each other. The mainstream begins to see the outcast as the root of many of the evils of their society and the outcast sees in the face of every mainstream person the last mainstream person who abused them. This fear becomes prejudice and that prejudice becomes a cycle of mutual destruction.

How do we end this cycle?

First of all, the mainstream culture needs to associate with the outcast culture. If this happens, then the mainstream culture will realize, over time, that the outcast culture aren’t so bad after all. Perhaps they act differently, and hold some different opinions, but that doesn’t make them bad people. That even if they may not be as “good” as those of their own culture, then at least they shouldn’t be feared. Once we get past the fear, then we can perhaps get to the point where representatives of the two cultures could actually assist each other and support each other.

The difficulty is, how to get the two sides to overcome their fear? They need two things: 1. A neutral ground where they both feel safe to meet. And 2. A mediator that understands the cultural presuppositions of both sides and is willing to teach both sides about the social needs of the other without putting down either side.

If we end cultural superiority, then we will end most poverty. If the mainstream and the ruling elite understand the life and worldview of the poor outcast, then we are ready to welcome each person as they are.

How To End Poverty 2

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I suppose I could have come up with ideas that would be a little less cruel to those in power, but I am tired of the rich elite ruling the world without any idea of what it means to be poor, or what their laws imply to those who have no resources. I am tired of this world where those in North America are so far removed from the poor that they dehumanize their own poor and distantly allow the poor of the world be killed, enslaved, have what little they have taken from them, all for the sake of that distant elite. I am sick of politicians rallying behind finance corporations to save the jobs of financiers, while allowing the needy be starved out due to forced debt and petty charges targeted against them.

I know God is angry at this too. He is saying now to the politicians and bankers and the wealthy elite of the world:
"How long will you judge unjustly
And show favor to the wicked?
Vindicate the needy and fatherless;
Give justice to the lowly and poor.
Rescue the weak and needy
Deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They do not know nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness.
All the foundations of the earth are shaken.”

Then He turns to them, in their smugness, and screams in their face:
“You had thought yourselves to be gods
And all of you to be sons of the Most High
But you will all die like mortals
And fall like any prince."

If we are honest about the world and the calamities that fall upon the poor and destitute, then we can but answer,
Arise, O God, bring justice to the earth!
Bring justice to the homeless who have been kicked out of their camps.
Bring justice to the AIDS sufferers who have been degraded by their own people
Bring justice to war victims, whose lives have been destroyed because of ideologies of distant rulers
Bring justice to the mentally ill, who are imprisoned in hospitals because they do not act “normal”
Bring justice to the elderly, who are commanded by their children to do that which they do not want to do
Bring justice to the falsely accused, who languish apart from their family and friends.
Bring justice to those beaten and lit on fire, just because they are too helpless to fight back.
Bring justice to the poor of the nations in such debt because of the greed of their politicians.

Yet, O God, have mercy on us who have failed the poor. Fill us with the compassion we lack.

How To End Poverty 1

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Today is Blog Action day and so we are all writing about poverty, in the hopes that it might be ended. I think this is a wonderful idea and I really support it.
However, I must say, that this morning I am feeling particularly cynical and upset. So in approaching the idea of how to end poverty, these are the ideas I came up with first:

1. Every politician, judge, lawyer, clergy, CEO, bank manager and doctor, before taking on their profession, must live with the destitute poor—the homeless, a hospital for the mentally ill, a village in Africa, Darfur, etc— for a month before taking office.

2. Create a drug that increases the effect of mirror-neurons, thus causing a super-empathetic reaction, and then put it in the drinking water.

3. Force the top two percent of wealthy people in the world to live among colonies of the sickest in the world—colonies of lepers, of AIDS sufferers, of malaria patients.

4. As a result of any lawmaker who writes or supports a law which harms the poor—for every act of war, for every unfair tariff, for every legislation aimed against the homeless—they are instantly killed by God or by an assassin’s bullet, without trial, without recourse.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Folks Who Helped This Last Summer


This is a photo of some of the folks who came this last summer from Agape Church of Christ (and Anawim) who helped us clean the filty mess we call a home. Oh, and they painted too.

They are standing in front of the dumpster they just filled. After they left, one of the guys gladly went diving, because at Anawim our motto is: Let No Dumpster Go Undived! (Wait, is that our motto? Wasn't it something else?)
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Homeless Man Burned To Death

This article was found on The Homeless Guy blog, here:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless man died after being doused with gasoline and set on fire on a street where he had lived for many years and was a familiar face to residents of Koreatown, police and local merchants said Friday.

Police were called to Third Street west of downtown Thursday evening and found the man, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.

A man in his 20s was seen throwing gasoline on the man, chasing him, throwing more on him and running from the scene, said Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz. Scorch marks stained a wall Friday where the man was burned.

The burning horrified even officers who routinely witness violent crimes, Diaz said.

"To murder somebody who's probably suffering from mental illness issues and not bothering anyone — just a poor wretch on the street — you've got to be a soulless nitwit to do something like this," he said.

The victim remained unidentified, and coroner's investigators might have to rely on fingerprints, Diaz said. Investigators canvassed the neighborhood Friday looking for evidence, witnesses and information about the victim.

Shopkeepers said the man was a fixture in the dense residential neighborhood at the northern edge of Koreatown, and residents were shocked to hear about his violent death.

Every day, the man drank a Dr Pepper, ate a bag of chips and smoked cigarettes, said Young Kim, who owns a nearby dry cleaner.

The homeless man had been in the area for at least 20 years but never bothered anyone or begged for money, Kim said. People gave him food, clothes and spare change.

"This is a terrible shame. He didn't deserve this. It's so cruel," said Jose Antonio Gonzalez, who owns a vitamin shop near where the man was found.

Gonzalez said some longtime residents called the man Johnny and believed he had fought in the Vietnam War and had a wealthy family somewhere. Gonzalez didn't know whether the stories were true.

"He didn't seem to have mental problems. He understood and spoke well. I don't know why he lived on the street," Kim said.

A witness, Thomas Lopez, told KCAL-TV he saw a teenager walk by the homeless man and pour something on him. Moments later the man was on fire.

"To actually see this guy on fire, it was unbelievable. Who would do such a thing?" Lopez said. "I took my shirt off and started putting him out."

The man, who paramedics thought was about 50 years old, had burns over 90 percent of his body, Fire Department spokeswoman d'Lisa Davies said.

Andy Bales, chief executive of the Union Rescue Mission on downtown's Skid Row, said the incident was "part of a long history of people attacking vulnerable homeless individuals in Los Angeles."

"They think the person is less than human because they happen to be homeless. I don't know how you could do that to another human being," Bales said.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Article on Diver


A reporter from the Portland Mercury interviewed Diver the other day. The picture she took is above and the post is here:

Scroll down to "Digger for Gold in Ressession Era Trash"

Check it out!
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Saturday, October 4, 2008

New Website

Check out Anawim's new website, No Where To Lay His Head:

This contains new teachings, and a new section on Dehumanization.

Tell me what you think!