The road to housing and safety

As I have continued my evening prayer on the street corner I have learned more and more about systemic gaps.  We have a good system, with a lot of good options to help people in need of safety or shelter.  However, there are gaps. Places and times when there is a mismatch between available beds an people in need because at some point some policy wonk decided to place requirements on the the bed occupants.  

It starts out well intended.  Someone does a study and says we need more beds for single men, they are our largest population in need.  They set out to make that happen, and their funders say sure we’ll help you house men… but only if they have male genitalia.  The intention is safety, concern that a woman might be harmed in the shelter. That for their safety and our liability, we have to limit rape and molestation.   That shower facilities are not mixed-gender friendly….its all so we’ll meaning.  But good intentions don’t allow service providers to respond to critical needs.  Like the day a transgender male-identifying person still physically with female genitalia presents.

Or when a cis-gendered woman presents?

And either of them is in danger of molestation on the street. But there are no beds for women, because we are hand-tied to a system unable to respond the the needs of the day. The person in front of us is in need, and in danger.

Another study says we need a domestic violence shelter, so we just our buys to create programs with those beds.  But the transgendered male-identifying is in danger from the street, not from an intimate partner.  They are on the street because the lost their job and got evicted.  The cis-woman, does qualify based on a violent episode, but was also arrested. She pled out because she got poor legal advice and is disqualified because of the record.

So there are perfectly good beds, and really well meaning people, and yet two people remain on the street tonight because a policy says who may occupy the bed.

The road to safety and housing needs prayer, and the funders who mean well need prayer and discernment about their restrictions.  How Lord may we include and qualify, rather than exclude and disqualify, so that we may truly love them and serve you within the them?  Guide us. Amen.

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Street Corner Evening Prayer

So, outside St. John’s there is a steady stream of people affected by addiction, homelessness, hopelessness.  It is after all a city building.  It’s colocated with in a block of several of the major social services in our city.  This has all been true for some time.  

Recently, I experienced something which shook me to put my faith into my actions in a new way. I arrived at the parish hall to return the soup pans from a meal we had made for the Domestic Violence shelter.  In the doorway a man jumped out. He had khaki pants, one leg rolled up, no shirt.  He was angry, and yelled incomprehensible. I returned to my car, and called our priest.  He had me go in to the narthax door, when i came back out, the man had passed put half in the sun and blazing heat.  His friends could not revive him.  His breathing was labored. One of them alerted the caseworker from the halfway house across the street.  We called the police and an ambulance.  

What happened next, stunned me.  After nearly 20 unresponsive minutes he revived. The officer called his name, and I was floored.  I asked if his last name was what I thought.  I then realized, I knew this man.  He was a cousin by marriage, 20 years my junior.  He looked 20 years my senior.  To say that the years of drug addiction and street life had taken a toll was an understatement.  In his angry, probably drug induced state, I saw the demon of drug addiction that was eating him alive.

Later I wept for the boy I had known, and I wept because I had missed recognizing him.  I could not help but feel the Lord had literally delivered him to my hands, and my response had been fear rather than faith.  If this was a test, I had failed.

Praying since I have asked God for guidance on how to respond now.  I have felt drawn to that corner, drawn back to that group of people on the street, drawn to bring prayer to that space.  And thus began a new practice.  Daily evening prayer, every day after work, on the corner amid these.  Sometimes a few stop to listen, sometimes they pay me no heed.  But each day I am called back, and I know I need to return. Reading the prayers aloud in this space, on a cement bench, on a street corner.

Please advocate for VAWA

Dear Friends,
I am concerned about a report today from the Heritage Foundation which has been released by the Trump team with plans to remove Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funding.  VAWA provides services for our rural and downstate victims of domestic violence. Dove
is a recipient of these funds for a five county region of central Illinois and while I cannot speak for Growing Strong I believe is also a part of their structure for the same region. The funds are not tax dollars, they come from the court fines assessed in
federal cases of violent crime.  These dollars provide shelter, counseling, hotline, legal advocacy for people who have had their lives shattered.  For nearly half a century Dove has fought hard for the tremendous gains achieved for victims of domestic violence
and sexual assault. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed with bipartisan support and was designed to develop the nation’s capacity to reduce domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault.

We have witnessed the life-saving support that VAWA has provided for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault locally and all over the country.

Please join me in advocating for the reauthorization of VAWA. Click the link below 

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51013/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19850 

Truth

Truth is a real thing. It exists. We have many ways of discerning truth. Sometimes objective data is the measure, sometimes spiritual discernment, sometimes revelation.

Yet here today, so many people in the world wish to throw out all of the tests and tools. Is it evil, laziness, demonic possession? Why are so many content with lies and willing to be spun? Like Obamacare, the truth is being repealed without a replacement. The result is chaos and fear.

The good news is that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light.  Look for him in all things and be strengthened. Fear not, for he is with us. Search for truth is the search for our sovereign Lord. Seek him for he wills to be found.

Death in context

Last evening a dear friend passed away. The myriad of human emotional response to the email sharing that news has passed through me, and I did the only thing I could. I sought out the Saturday morning Eucharist.

It’s not that personal prayer would not have gotten me to the place I needed to be with God, it has on many occasions. But in providing his church, God gave us the gift of each other. He also shows the beauty of life of our fellowship.  Today marked the birthday of an 81 and 89 year old parishioner. This occasion marked with a blessing, and in the Saturday fellowship hour includes champagne, cake, and a birthday song.

I didn’t know this group well as Saturday is not my usual service. But they welcomed me and included me in this celebration as if I were always there. They gave context to what it is to cherish our life and our deaths as members  in the body of Christ.

Eternal Lord God, you hold all souls in life: Give to your whole Church in paradise and on earth your light and your peace; and grant that we, following the good examples of those who have served you here and are now at rest, may at the last enter with them into your unending joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Watch over thy child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be. Strengthen him when he
stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he fall; and in his heart may thy peace which
passeth understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 Amen.

The cold knows no denomination

Tonight as the local warming shelter program opens for the first time this winter our local community lays aside the strata and strife of society. Evening prayers

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.

Amen

Please send help not cards.

Dearest friends and family,
If you would like to send something for Christmas, please send help to those in need. I love and appreciate you all so much, but I also am doing well. I live in a home I own (or at least am capable of paying the mortgage on). I am surrounded by family. I have a job (or 3) and food.

What I don’t have and desperately desire is a world of peace where all of my neighbors feel loved and cared for.If you would like to send something for Christmas, please send help to those in need.  So, a card and stamp costs about $1 (49 cent postage + card). Please take that dollar and donate it to a local charity. Invest it in people and say a prayer when you do that your dollar be wisely spent to the glory of His Kingdom and the care of His people.

If you planned to call or text me, please instead use one of the following text donations:

  •  Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes
  • Text PREVENT to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross and help us vaccinate children against measles..
  • Text AID to 80077 to give $10 to HOPE worldwide‘s general disaster response fund, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and medical emergencies.
  • Text PEACEFUND to 88588 to give to Peace Fund Helping Hand initiative providing specific assistance to a child facing insurmountable obstacles in their lives.

If you had just planned to drop by, drop by an elderly neighbor, shut in or homeless shelter and visit with someone who needs a smile.

Thank you so much for loving me, and thinking of me this time of year. May God bless you and keep you.

Chris