Probably the most popular blog post here is the article by Pam Wilson of Operation Mercy about the phrase "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." It's a great article you can read here if you like.
Even though I have a lot of questions about this proverb, people have been quoting it a lot to me lately. A friend of mine recently posted on my Facebook page, "We need to teach the homeless how to fish." This is a summary statement, which really means, "We need to train the homeless so they can get jobs." Getting the homeless work is essential, no question. Labor is a big issue among the homeless, especially with the increased competition as many people are losing jobs.
But do the homeless need to be retrained? Sure, some could benefit from some training. But frankly, almost all of the homeless have skills that could be used in jobs today. I know mechanics, landscapers, carpenters, roofers, painters, bike mechanics, general handymen, and many other occupations. These are jobs that need to be done and there is a lot of work for this kind of work. Perhaps having regular work this way takes some time, but our folks are ready to build up a clientele. They've got time and aren't in a hurry. But they'd like work. Today, if possible.
So why don't they work? Because no one will hire a homeless person. Employers are looking for people who are already settled. They don't want to hire someone who might be difficult. Even people looking for work for a day are nervous about hiring a homeless person to do work. Or perhaps they think that a homeless person would do shoddy work.
Let's face it, the homeless don't need to "learn to fish." They need to be given a chance. They need to be given jobs, or at least some day labor.
If you have ever even thought about a homeless person, "That person needs to get a job," then stop and reprimand yourself for your hypocrisy unless you have hired and paid a homeless person for work. Do you want to have a church ministry? Hire the homeless to care for your church property, even if only for a day.
Don't know where to find homeless people to hire to do work for you? If you are in the Portland area, contact me. I'll get you a worker. They can clean your house. They can clean up your yard. They can repair. They can build wood tables. Don't think that the homeless are inadequate. Most of them aren't. They just need a chance. And maybe a little patience.