IMG_0759.jpgIMG_0752.jpgSo speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy, yet mercy triumphs over judgment.  

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?  Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you say to them,  “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?  So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.   –   James

We live near this hill, pictured, to the north of us.  To the south homeless people started a fire that took out a lot of trees.  I have never invited the homeless to live with us.  I want to help, but having spent many years doing volunteer work, I’m too much of a coward to invite people with severe problems to share our home with us.   And that, I would suggest, is probably true of most of those critics behind the slings and arrows directed at us, the hypocritical, loveless Bible thumpers.

There are about 100 church groups in Abbotsford, and judging from social media over the past few years, homelessness could be solved, if only the Bible-belt stepped up and put their faith into action.

Churches, last I knew, get tax relief on the building footprint, but must pay municipal tax on the rest of the land, and on any part of the building with a commercial use.  Perhaps NO group should be tax-exempt…… NO religions, no clubs, and no ‘non-profits’, given the tendency for some charitable groups to help themselves quite liberally to donations.

But churches do have tax-exemptions and it is in vogue these days to sneer at them for their lack of love for the poor and needy.  So is that a fair expectation?

Aside from that tax-break, churches exist entirely on the personal resources of adherents.  They pay for lands, buildings, salaries and the myriad services they freely provide to local communities, as well as to ministry throughout the world. Christians do that with their discretionary funds, that is the money left over after taxes and rent and heat and food and gas and bills.  You know, the money you may prefer to spend on hockey games or the next trip to Vegas.

Christians pay the same taxes as their neighbours, in fact, IF they are true believers they  likely pay a higher share of the tax burden because a true Christian is far less likely to cheat on tax returns.  God transforms His children.  He helps them overcome their lower nature so that they no longer want to cheat or lie.

Government taxes are very high and have social service needs built into the rate structure.  But something is badly wrong when billions of dollars across the nation pour into the chasm of welfare services with so little to show for it.

How easy is it for churches to open up, at least in bitter cold, windy or rainy weather?  And if it is thought to be such a simple thing for churches to step up to the plate in extreme weather, why not use Rotary and Lion’s clubs, and City Halls, and firehalls and greenhouses and lawyer’s offices?  Most business buildings are empty at night. Why the potential for alleviating homelessness is mind-boggling.

So,….. you’d need to have a supply of clean, dry bedding, and towels, and volunteers and heat. Oh wait, does the zoning allow for this use?

Some homeless are addicted to drugs, some suffer from mental illness.  Better have a qualified health professional on hand.  (Uh oh,…..will they work for free……?)

What is someone gets violent.  Make sure at least one volunteer is a strong man.

But wait.  What if in the process of protecting others, the volunteer, or the aggressor, or other shelter seekers get hurt?  Call the insurance company, see if they will cover such an event, and how much that will cost the congregation.

Are people allowed to smoke in this building?  What about fire hazards? Nicotine craving can make for some serious tension.

Arrange for someone to clean up the building in the morning.

What if someone dies in the building?  Oh don’t think any more!!

 

A fellow was telling me today that he volunteered at a church that has made the effort to help people through the extreme weather periods.  He says they were given explicit orders not to share the gospel of the grace and love found in our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Christians were forbidden to share any life-transforming literature with their needy fellow humans. Not allowed to pray with them, or sing songs of hope with them.  Evangelism, the Good News, strictly off-limits in the church building.

So born-again believers should be first in line to share their time and money and strength, incur possible physical harm or litigation in order to care for the poor, because they are Christians.  But never, ever must you offer to share the reason you care about their plight.  You, the beggar who found an eternal feast are now forbidden to point fellow beggars to the bread of life.

I have not yet tried to confirm from other sources, as to whether this is some over-arching policy governing assistance to the homeless.  But it is my motivation.  Prior to God reaching down and setting my feet on the road that leads to life, I rarely cared to bother with altruism.  Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die.

It is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls who changes us, gives us hearts of compassion, alters our value system, shows us a higher road and by his Spirit enables us to become more like him.  That’s a process and no Christian has arrived at perfection, and won’t until death.  Jesus already took our just punishment for sins when He died on the cross of Calvary for me and you and the poor, homeless and addicted.

Something to think about, and something just as vital as food and shelter.

 

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