Editor's Note: This is the second in a 2-part series on the connection between sin and homelessness. Read the first post here.
We must not stand idly by
By Rich Schaus
Director of the UGM Crisis Shelter for Women & Children
This year we were given the privilege to serve a young lady who left the Crisis Shelter in expectation of an evening out with her husband. The couple had a few drinks and then went back to their motel.
A short while later, there was a knock on their door. Two men were welcomed into the room by the husband. The three talked for a few moments, there was a shaking of hands, and then the two men moved to rape the young lady. Her husband, having received drugs as payment, sat in the corner of the hotel room shooting up as the violence transpired. He had sold his wife for a quick fix.
When she came back to the Shelter, she was bruised, beaten and shattered. She felt like her life was over. While the rape itself was horrific, the betrayal of her husband went even deeper.
What happened to this woman was sin on so many levels. My heart breaks for her whenever I recall her story.
What is not in the story above is the fact that at one point she tried to run away and actually got out of the motel room door. She was screaming for help. Others saw what was happening and heard her screams but did not intervene. They turned away.
Often when we think of sinners, we think of the Saddam Husseins or the drug dealers or the rapists in the story above. But I would suggest that if we are silent, if we look away from the poor and homeless, if we refuse to talk about domestic violence and abuse, the breakdown of the family and the consequences of addiction, we are choosing to impoverish people. We are choosing sin and death, rather than sharing life. We are little better than the worst villains of history.
Sin and homelessness is a 2-sided story.
Side 1: Sinful choices - addiction, sex outside of marriage, divorce, criminal behavior - can cause poverty.
Side 2: The impoverished are often victims of sin - domestic violence, neglect, abuse, and the failure to provide on the part of responsible parties. (Over 40% of the women coming to the Crisis Shelter report that domestic violence contributed to their homelessness.)
The church has a responsibility to intervene, to stand up for the oppressed, for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
If we look away, we are giving our silent approval of the sin that is so destructive to those who are vulnerable. If we love them, we must confront the sins of our society.
Ezekiel 16:49 – “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
Over 1oo times in the Old Testament, God commands us to care for the poor and the needy, to bring justice for the oppressed.
Micah 6:8 (NKJV) – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
How can we experience what is good if we ignore the poor and the homeless? We must get involved in their lives. If they sin, we must tell them so in love. If they are blind, we must introduce them to the Healer who can help them to see. But most importantly, we must not stand idly by, pretending not to see.
Not sure what to do?
Start with prayer. Download 100 Days of Prayer for the Crisis Shelter. Pray for our overflowing Shelter. Pray for the women and children to experience the love of Jesus Christ. Pray for power over addiction. Pray for the Spirit to move. And pray that God would show you how you might be part of the solution.
You might also be interested in these posts about the Crisis Shelter:
- Rescue: Meeting People in the Messiest of Messes
- Rescue: A Ministry of Disappointments
- Homeless Women & the Abundance of Villains Who Prey on Them
- One Woman's Journey into Homelessness