3rd Lenten Weekly Challenge

12 03 2007

March 11th – 17th – Third Week of Lent

Journey into the Brokenness of Homelessness

“There are only two families in the world as my grandmother used to say: the haves and the have-nots.”

Homelessness or houselessness as it is now often called, is a huge and complex challenge throughout our world. UN-HABITAT’s 2005 report indicates that over one billion of the world’s six billion residents live in inadequate housing, mostly in the sprawling slums and squatter settlements in developing countries. They estimate that by the year 2050 this figure could rise to over 3 billion .
In the U.S. an estimated 4-5 million people go homeless each year. In Australia an estimated 100,000 are homeless and in Britain 100,000 households live in temporary accommodation and are therefore classified as homeless. In all our countries the numbers have increased in the last few years and the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is young women with children. Millions of others live without a safety net and constantly struggle with the knowledge that loss of a job or serious illness could quickly push them onto the streets.

Scripture Isaiah 65: 17 – 25 or Isaiah 53

17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
20 “Never again will there be in it
infants who live but a few days,
or older people who do not live out their years;
those who die at a hundred
will be thought mere youths;
those who fail to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain, or will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
Accept the Challenge

Begin your weekly meeting by discussing your participation in the $2 challenge. In what ways have you been tempted to take short cuts over the week to avoid your restricted diet? What long term impact could it have on your eating habits?

Now try to put yourself in the place of people who are homeless. Sit for a few moments and look around your house. Focus on the things you value most – your family photos, the tablecloth lovingly embroidered by your grandmother, the gifts from your mother and father. How would you feel if these were suddenly lost? Even worse how would you feel if everything else was stripped away too – including your job and your life savings?

Now imagine that you and your family have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to find safety. You are crowded into a makeshift refugee camp with thousands of others. During the trip your passport and money were stolen. Now you have heard rumors that there is only enough food and water for a small portion of the people in the camp. How would you feel? How would you react? How would you want others to react to you?

Plan some ways to interact with homeless people and refugees each day during the next week. Here are some possible ways to accomplish this:

  • Find out where the homeless people in your neighbourhood congregate. Walk around the area with a friend. Talk to at least one homeless person you encounter and ask them about their life. If possible find out why they became homeless.
  • Buy a paper from a homeless person when you go shopping.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter for an evening.
  • Take a homeless person out for a cup of coffee or for lunch.
  • Talk to people who have been refugees. Ask them about their experiences of homelessness.
  • Visit a tent city if there is one in your area.
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