“What we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do. And to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute…we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world.” (Dorothy Day, 1942, emphasis added.)
It’s quite possible that you read the word “homelessness” in the title of this post and felt yourself sigh. We hear about homelessness all the time–we pass homeless people on the streets and feel a variety of internal reactions. It feels like something that has already been talked about and talked about. Or, more accurately, perhaps that sigh indicates that it seems an overwhelming problem. What can we do? No sooner is one person able to move out of homelessness than five more seem ready to take her place.
Forasmuch as (even as Scripture reminds us) the poor and homeless have always been with us, the problem is growing and, to a certain degree, changing in our modern times. And even our own assumptions need to be checked about what causes people to be homeless. Do people become homeless due to drug addiction, or do they become drug addicted because they’re homeless? Do people become homeless due to mental illness, or does homelessness by its very nature bring on mental illness? And is every person who is homeless responsible themselves for their lack of secure shelter? Or are there larger, societal issues at play here? Are our traditional church approaches to serving the homeless sufficient, or should we be digging deeper?
It’s time to take a good, hard look at homelessness and inadequate housing from a Christian perspective. American Baptist Women’s Ministries is engaging in this issue by offering a virtual mission encounter for women, “Break Every Yoke: Homelessness,” May 5-9, 2014. “Break Every Yoke” will inspire and equip women to use their voice on behalf of the homeless and inadequately housed. This virtual mission encounter offers the opportunity for women to explore homelessness from a faith perspective, including how individuals or congregations may most effectively engage in ministries of prevention, support, and advocacy. Each day’s focus will be studied as it has impact upon youth, adults and families, and seniors, with suggestions for advocacy around a range of issues throughout the week.
Special guests include Rev. Francesca Crane, executive director of Bridge of Hope Lancaster & Chester Counties (Pennsylvania); Corenne Smith, American Baptist missionary serving with homeless youth in Brazil; Luz Jurado, an American Baptist woman who ministers with homeless youth in Los Angeles, California; and Rev. Judy Fackenthal, pastor of the Garfield Park Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is engaged in ministries with the homeless.
Virtual mission encounters offer the opportunity for women to engage with mission themes in a deep and meaningful way while still being able to care for work, family, and church responsibilities at home. Each participant in the virtual mission encounter receives a daily email with interesting and thought-provoking activities that can be done within the normal schedule of one’s day. Every evening, participants interact with one another and a special guest on a conference call, and there is a private online discussion tool for participants to share their learnings and observations with one another.
Learn how you can cast your pebble into the pond. Your individual passion and compassion, or that of your congregation’s, can indeed change the world.
Registration for “Break Every Yoke” is now open. Visit www.abwministries.org/vme for more information, speaker bios, and to register.