Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Mouse Story

A favorite of Patty's:

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. "What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose"

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap-- alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't
concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life.
We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
To do the right thing.And be all we can be with kindness & compassion.

Does anyone know who this is by so I can give credit?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Peace Seeds

Below is a poem by Harlan Young, a friend of mine who recently returned to do street ministry.

Jesus was marginalized for hanging out with the poor,
the gangbanging zealot and despicable whore.
He went to dark places, the ghetto and hood.
He didn’t need affirmation, he knew where he stood.

The peace seeds he sowed were ridiculously small,
like mustard seeds when planted, invisible to all.
But germinate they did and grow to this day,
proving redemption through relationships is the best way.

I’ve joined him in the work that leads not to fame,
if I endure to the end I’ll be glad that I came,
to enter dark places with the torch of the Spirit.
If I first live out the Gospel, I’ll have the right to proclaim it.

The homeboys who trust me might invite me to toke
(I hope I don’t get buzzed on the second hand smoke),
but I graciously decline and explain as I say,
“Thanks dude, but I’ve found a better way.”

This is so not the life I had planned,
back in my Humboldt hippie days, eco-groovy and grand.
Waging the war to preserve ancient forest,
in hope that such beauty endure untarnished.

But I’m in a transition I can’t figure out.
I look back on my life and ask, “What’s this about?”
I still dig the forest, but my values have shifted.
My contempt for the city is now being lifted.

Like Jonah I tried to run from my calling,
afraid of the slums and actually falling
in love with the broken God so passionately cherished,
refusing to care whether or not they perished.

So now I’ve repented, to the inner-city I’ve turned.
Since entering its gates, this is what I have learned.
There is actually beauty here, ‘though sublime and misunderstood.
I’m finding hidden treasure waging peace in the hood.

Harlan Young

Friday, May 6, 2011

East Multnomah County Homeless Meeting 2011

In April 2011 about 20 of the homeless community of Gresham met to discuss the current situation for the homeless and what services would be most helpful to provide. After a general list was created, the list was voted on to establish priority. The following items are listen in the order of the most votes.

1. Bus tickets
Transportation is a huge issue and the preferred solution is bus tickets
Either one zone or two zone tickets; bus passes would be wonderful, if possible
Tickets could be worked for; e.g. work at a church for an hour for two-four tickets

2. Pet health care
The number of pets, especially dogs, has increased considerably in the last couple years. Thus, the need for some care for the pets have increased.
Emergency care
On site clinic
Licensing—obtaining free training
Raincoats for dogs
Look into donations from pet stores
Flea and worm treatments

3. Safe place to sleep overnight
This is not a shelter, but a place to camp or park safely. Shelters are not usually preferred unless the weather is particularly bad. The issue here is safety-- from anyone who wishes to harm the homeless or to steal their possessions.
A parking lot for cars
A safe camp where items can be permanently stored

3. Day labor site with phone—both ingoing and outgoing
There are many skilled laborers on the street but almost no opportunities to work. We could use the day shelter sites as places for day-employers to pick up and drop off laborers.
This can be done pretty simply using a cell phone we already have and a Craigs

3. Laundry facility or vouchers
There are currently no opportunities to do laundry for free in East County.
Check out store on Cleveland or 162nd and Glisan

6. Dental care
There is currently no dental care for the homeless in East County.

7. Permanent Night shelter

8. Community computer at the day shelters

9. Storage Lockers
These could be built and housed at Anawim.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Beggar's Song

This is a song I wrote in India in 1985. I was followed by a old woman, desperate for my money, which she knew I must have because I was clearly American. I went into a shop to escape her, but she waited for me for a half hour and then followed me for more than a mile. I don't remember if I gave in to the impulse to give to her (I was advised not to), but it had such an impact on me that I wrote this song, from her point of view:

Don't turn your eyes from me
Don't turn away
I see the wealth you hide within
Share it, I pray
You don't have to squeeze my hand
You know I am poor
I only want a little I don't
Ask you for more
My clothes tattered, my flesh torn
Flies fill my face
You reason I'm unworthy of you
I need your grace
Your wealth abounds and begs release
Please heal my sore
Your pockets full yet sewn with greed
Do you need it more?

Don't give me pictures from your camera
Movies nor magazines
You have the life I need to live
Give me bread, don't give me jeans
You turn away from my sadness
But what would Jesus do?
Would he give me dust and say "Go away"?
Or heal me and say, "Be true"?

Reflection on Giving To Beggars

This is a letter sent to Evangelicals for Social Action on a discussion about whether giving money to beggars is helpful or harmful. To find out more about ESA or to sign up for the e-pistle, the free ESA publication, please find out more Here.

Dear ePistle,
I made a few resolutions to stop doing bad stuff during Lent, which I failed spectacularly to uphold. I did make one positive resolution that I found easy to uphold, and which is relevant to the discussion of giving on the street in the 4/6 ePistle.

I live in NYC. When I first started living in cities in my 20s, I would sometimes make a personal connection with panhandlers, take them out for coffee or a meal, converse, etc. Over the years of living here, I gradually became hardened. I think this issue is so complex, that I'm not at all sure I would advise people NOT to become hardened. While it's true that we are to love others without concern for how deserving they are, I think it is spiritually problematic to respond to every stranger who comes to us, asking for financial help, with our whole heart, let alone by opening our wallet.

As an extreme case, I've had two muggings that began with similar requests. While I think these people deserved a loving response, my attempt at a loving response (in one case, by literally taking out my wallet) only made a violent encounter more likely. The code of behavior by which people look through each other in urban environments is not merely a symptom of our fallenness but in some cases is adaptive.

That said, for Lent I made the resolution to give to everyone who asked of me, even if their asking was fairly passive. I thought I had gotten a little too good at tuning people out. As a result, I lost some money—not much, in the grand scheme of things—but gained a series of encounters that were more humane than they would have been otherwise. A ministry at a local church provided me with cards that gave basic information about how homeless people could obtain needed services in NYC, which I would give along with money. Giving the card without the money may have been more practical, but smacks a little too much of Scrooge ("Here are the poorhouses! Go there!").

I think Ron Sider is right, but I also think that, by withholding my dollar (or whatever small sum I would give such a person), I am not preventing enough harm to make it an obvious choice. By giving the dollar, I do enable the individual to (most likely) abuse another dollar, but that dollar is buying me a moment where I can look them in the eye and have an interaction that is friendly. If I want to tell someone begging in the street, "God bless you," but without giving them the kind of blessing they are looking for at that moment, I'm not being realistic.
- Andrew Draper (Brooklyn, NY)