Our emerging plan for the homeless

Over at Everyday Kingston we’ve been incredibly blessed to be warmly
welcomed, championed and even served by members of the local homeless community. While we’ve run Winter Night Shelters in Wimbledon & Kingston, have
begun discussions about cooperative work with Green Pastures and have partnered
with local charities including the YMCA SWL, Kingston Churches Action on
Homelessness and the Joel Community Project in the past, we’ve yet to establish
a formal, ongoing approach to work with this incredibly overlooked
community.
It looks as though any past, present and prospective work
amongst the homeless will fall into one or more of the following categories.
While there are discussions going on behind the scenes which are likely to bear
fruit, it would be amazing if as a church we could begin to pray into these
specific areas asking that our venue leaders would hear clearly from God
about how Everyday can tackle this appalling modern day curse.
The five categories are:

INTEGRATION: we want to
see people who happen to be homeless welcomed and treated as any other person
would be in every expression of church life. While we’ve a way to go with this,
this has been a powerful part of our Kingston story. The privilege and blessing
are all ours – we’ve been accepted and championed by many in this dispersed
community and God has given us the favour of a positive reputation with
individuals and agencies alike as a result. Please pray for the best, Matt
28:19 outworking of this approach – that we would see (in fact continue to see,
as we have seen this already) homeless people joining us and growing to become
fruitful, courageous, servant hearted leaders in our church family.

SUPPORT: this is part
companionship, part advocacy as we stand with those who are appealing for housing,
benefits, a job – any kind of break to disrupt the cycle of poverty that
homelessness engenders. Many agencies provide support in these areas but we’ve found
there’s often great power in us standing with an individual as they negotiate what
can be a frighteningly unfriendly system. This type of support is already
happening fairly informally across the church at different times; please pray
we get much smarter (wiser?) at offering this essential support…

PROVISION: this is where
we seek to fulfil some of what Jesus is getting at in Matthew 25 and James 2 –
providing for people materially: food, money, blankets, a bed for the night.
This is happening across the church, in the form of Night Shelter, outward giving
and the many informal gifts and invitations which I know have been extended and
gratefully received within our church family. While I would never discourage people
from giving spontaneously to people in need, I am increasingly convinced that
we are called to trust ourselves, our plans, our resources into the hands of
the church, hands which are themselves enfolded in the hands of God. Please
pray for James 1:5 and Acts 4:34-35 wisdom for the leaders of Everyday Church, and please give generously to your local venue!

HOUSING: ultimately, if
you’re going to help the homeless then at some point you have to tackle this… it’s
becoming harder and harder to get yourself back up and off the streets and in
some cases only a miracle will do it; this isn’t only a provision issue, it’s a
heart and healing issue as many homeless people find themselves ill-equipped
for life indoors after years on the streets. We’re currently getting to know
Green Pastures as an organisation and it seems likely we’ll do something
together. Please pray for us to receive all the wisdom and resource we need to make
this happen God’s way and in his time…
AWARENESS: finally, through
events like SleepEasy, through our heart for people living and sleeping on the streets
and through any other initiatives God gives us, we want to open people’s eyes again to
the horror of homelessness. It’s really not ok for several thousand people to
spend some part of each year on the streets in one of the richest cities in the
world – and yet we’ve trained ourselves to think that at some level it really
is normal and acceptable. It’s not. Please pray for our own eyes and hearts to be
reopened to the truth horror of homelessness and for God to give us a voice –
his voice – as we speak out against the systemic injustice which keeps people
trapped in this particularly cold and unforgiving pit of poverty.  
God really does answer fervent, specific prayers! Please take
time, either frequently or just this once, to pray through each of these areas
in turn; pray that God’s will would be done through Everyday Church and that
we’d be hugely effect in tackling this humanitarian crisis which is right now
being played out under our noses. What can you do? Commit yourself to God and
his church and pray, pray, pray for God to use us all to make a difference… 
If you want to know more about how we currently support the homeless, or want to offer your time or expertise to this work, please mail us

Akhtar Shah

Leadership, Social Action, Evangelism.