Honestly, we at Anawim don't usually get into shelter that much.
Shelter is expensive, requires staff and requires rules that we don't usually want to get into.
But this week, we got permission to open up a warming shelter in Gresham for a few nights. It was necessary because the weather in Portland was in the teens (a number of degrees below zero). This may not seem a big deal to most of you guys, but here in Portland, such weather is unique, and no one is prepared for it, even the homeless. So we need to provide shelter for people or they will die.
I found someone who died of hypothermia. It's not pretty.
Anyway, so we opened up a shelter for the first few nights of the crazy weather Portland is still having. I guess a local tv station interviewed someone we were able to help and he said we saved his life.
On the first night, someone snuck up to the excluded part of the church and took a crow bar to the office. He didn't get in, but that's not the point. It was difficult for us to get the church because of the fears some of the church leaders had about the homeless. And now we might question that we might be able to use the church for this again.
But I know two things about this kind of situation:
1. Just because we help people, we can't require them to be grateful or respectful. The point is, we need to save lives, even if they stab us in the back. That's what Jesus was about, so that's what we need to be about.
2. We can't paint all poor people, or all homeless or anyone with the same brush. Most of the people we helped those nights were grateful and helpful and polite. One person who is hateful and hurtful shouldn't stop anyone from helping. Nor should it give us an idea of what all homeless people are like. To do so is to participate in the very worst kind of prejudice.