The Christmas Letter
The Christmas Letter
In school, you always want to know what is going to be on the test. If the teacher tells you the questions before the test, there is no excuse for being unprepared. Luckily, the Teacher gave a cheat sheet in Matthew 25. Here are the questions: Did you provide for the hungry, thirsty, and naked? Did you welcome the stranger? Did you visit the sick and prisoners? The reward for passing this test is unimaginable, but these questions scare me.
We have worked with many schizophrenic homeless people. All of them pushed away help. They refused healthcare, shelters, and even handouts. Their mental illness prevented them from accepting the help they needed. It is a tragedy that the mentally ill are outside all winter. Besides the physical deterioration, living outside makes their mental condition even worse. The only way to get through to people in this situation is persistent love.
In two cases, Simple House volunteers helped mentally ill homeless people get permanent housing. It required building a friendship and giving them temporary housing. At this moment, we have an opportunity to get three people off the streets this winter.
Jan and Joe are a mother and son. Jan is almost seventy years old, and Joe is in his forties. Joe seems to have severe Asperger’s syndrome. He is almost completely dependent upon Jan, who also has a mental illness. They sleep outside, yet they push away help. Can you imagine caring for an adult child when you are seventy and homeless? Because of the persistence of loving missionaries, Jan and Joe are becoming open to help.
Ben is in his mid-twenties and lives under a bridge. He recently went into a bank and asked for a loan to buy the Helzberg Diamond company. Although the banker was polite, Ben found it frustrating that the banker wasn’t more helpful. His other plan is to start a hotdog business to benefit the Sioux Indians. He has never met a Sioux Indian. Whenever I visit him under the bridge, he assumes that I just returned from Ireland.
Ben has been pushing away help and is suffering from frostbite. It was difficult to convince him to have lunch with me a few times a week. As a result of spending time with Ben, he has agreed to work on getting IDs and disability benefits. That is the first step to getting him long-term housing.
We need help sheltering Ben, Jan, and Joe while we build trust and get them housing. There are resources to help them with housing, but we need financial help to get them inside while we sort out the future.
Poverty in America is not simple, and addressing it is never straightforward. It is not a mere lack of material possessions or opportunity. It is nice to think some food, job training, or creative social work will change the situation, but the only real agent of change is love. The simple solutions have all been tried. The remaining poverty is real and stubborn. It requires material help with Christian love. We can help the mentally ill, but they will not accept this help without the love which should motivate it.
I see injustices against the poor, but I don’t usually think or speak in terms of justice. Persistent injustices need attention, but the justice mindset centers on material or earthly fixes. When I take people into the projects, they are usually shocked by the material wealth. Most households have big screen TVs, and people have their physical needs met. The core problem seems to be a strange wound or despair. It has been called the mystery of iniquity, and the only solution is love.
Every sin is illogical at a basic level. We can explain factors that influence drug abuse, abusing others…. even murder. But if there is a God that offers peace, joy, and love, immoral acts never make sense. There is a mysterious problem within all of us that steers us toward sin. That problem needs addressed with love. It must be a passionate Christ-like love that forgives, nurtures, and raises up. It is not always a feel good or warm fuzzy love. It’s usually self-sacrificing, but sometimes it can be wonderful and rewarding. Any lesser solution than love is just a patch or a gimmick.
The poor need help like they are our own family. That doesn’t mean give them everything they ask for, and it doesn’t mean be patronizing or know-it-alls. It is a give and take. The poor need our help, and we all need the help of the poor. They need our perspective and friendship, and we need their perspective and friendship. There are special spiritual gifts hidden within poverty. Loving and befriending the poor is the only way for us to share in these gifts.
Real love is more than an answer to poverty. It is an answer to life. It heals the giver and the receiver. We are trying to give and receive this love at A Simple House. Please help us do God’s work with the poor this Christmas. We need financial resources and fulltime volunteers to do this work. Even a monthly gift of $20 creates a solid foundation for the ministry.
Christmas Outreach Update!
The DC and KC houses are angeling gifts to over 200 kids this year. In addition, there will be over 260 Christmas baskets delivered to parents we serve! Please help us keep this witness going, and please pray for everyone who is involved with A Simple House!
Peace and Merry Christmas!
Clark Massey with full-time volunteers: Erin Bunker, Kara Cruickshank, Ryan Hehman, Jimmy Morgan, Michaela Pezza, Chelsea St. Peter, and Teresa Yao