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Homelessness

This weekend we visited with our son Justin who lives close to downtown Charleston. Him and his girlfriend moved into a 3 story house recently.

My son told us about a man who is homeless and lives under the bridge close to their house. He told me that the man has quite the set up under the bridge. Unfortunately this homeless man is not alone. There are several camps of homeless people in our cities. There is one camp behind the Walmart on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston. If it were not for my listening to a police scanner and have access to Facebook I might not know about it. The homeless population is self evident. I probably see several homeless folks during my normal travels. Sometimes they are standing on street corners asking for handouts. Sometimes you see them walking down a sidewalk with a grocery cart with all of their earthly posessions. I know that there are several christian ministries that reach out to them with food and clothing. Charleston is not the cheapest place to live any more. Downtown Charleston is so expensive that my wife and I could not afford it even with the income I make.

Many years ago I was homeless when I was in my 20’s. I know what it is like to have 3 garbage bags with my stuff. I know what it is like to sleep on a piece of cardboard or stay at a homeless shelter. I was not there because of alcohol or drug addiction. I was there because of pride and needing to get my head and heart straight as a young man. Luckily for me I managed to get things right and find a job and escaped from that place. Being homeless can be devestating and it takes a willingness to reach out for help and make whatever changes necessary to get out of that situation.

Today as I observe the homeless people all around me it tugs at my heart. I am sure that wherever you live you have the same homeless population living wherever they can trying to live and survive however they can.

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Refugee

Now that President Trump is in the oval office he has illuminated the need to provide proper screening for refugees pouring across our borders. The President has also suggested that we should build a wall between us and Mexico. This is a very polarizing topic that will illicit very heated debates on both sides of the issue.

One view point is to open our borders and let them all come in and lets help them, no matter what the cost. We will just screen the refugees the best we can and just deal with the fall out if a couple of bad apples get across and wind up killing some of us.

Another view point is to lock down the borders and stop being the world police. Lets stop being the giant refugee camp for the rest of the world. We have enough problems of our own, dont we?

I can hear the responses from my christian friends now. What would Jesus do? I am thinking that Jesus would meet the problem head on and provide for the needs of the people. Does that mean that Jesus could only do that here in America? In other words, could Jesus meet the needs of the refugees right where they live in the war ravaged villages where the refugees are from? Maybe only in America could he meet their needs…..

Please do not misunderstand me. I do feel compassion for people in third world countries that are being destroyed by war mongering dictators who have very little regard for human life. Does that mean I am not supposed to have compassion for the huddled masses of Americans who live on our streets? What about our veterans of foreign wars? Why has it come down to a choice between Americans vs refugees from other countries? Mabye someone should come up with a solution that will help all three groups of people.

I love to watch Dateline on NBC in the evenings. They always seem to have some sort of human interest story to air. The other night they aired a story about the ban that President Trump imposed when he took office. That ban was overturned by the Supreme Court and now the ban has been lifted. The story showed how much red tape and screening that refugees have to go through via the TSA.

One refugee family made their trek to one of our inner cities and were met by whatever organization that is in place to help the refugee family start a new life in our country. They were moved into a nice apartment and the father was assisted in finding a new job. I have no ide what other help was given to this family but now they have a new start and are no longer in fear for their lives. What an awesome story.

Meanwhile, back on the streets of America our government is doing NOTHING to help the homeless people or veterans. The most that the local goverment does is to bus the homeless away from their tourist districts downtown out to the suburbs or even to a near by city. Lets not address the problem, lets just move it around or sweep it under the rug and ignore it.

Yes, there are local organizations in Charleston such as Lowcountry Herald and other faith based organizations who try to meet the needs of feeding the homeless and providing them with health screening and personal hygiene kits. These organizations are run mostly by volunteers who give of their time, energy and money to see this happens. For the most part though, most folks ignore the homeless and consider them less than human.

There are those people who chose to live on the streets. There are some people who are homeless because they allowed addictions or divorce or joblessness to get them where they are. Sometimes addiction turns to job loss and a wrecked marriage and then they wind up on the streets. Does that mean there is no hope for these people? Jesus would look at these folks, feed them give them clothes, heal them and tell them to go and sin no more. That is what he did with the woman at the well.

We have churches that go on missionary trips to third world countries to tell people about the gospel of Christ and to take them clothes and provide them with clean drinking water and health services. Maybe our faith based organizations should turn that magnifying glass inside of our borders and see the needs right here in our own back yard.

This is a huge problem and it has gotten worse from one decade to the next. It is time that we as a people, as Americans, reach out to these people and lend a helping hand. If we do not do it, who will?

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