Missional Ministry to the “Least of these”

Ask yourself this question? How many homeless people do you know personally? I'm not talking about the ones you ignore on your commute or see on occasional forays into the city. How many do you know by name? With how many have you had a conversation lasting more than the 5 seconds it took to say "no" when asked for a quarter? To be honest, before moving back into Philadelphia, I knew none. My suburban townhouse was situated in a quiet development of neatly manicured homes. I saw some homeless people, not in my neighborhood mind you, but occasionally would drive by someone who appeared to be down and out.


How many homeless people you know by name is not an indication of your spirituality. It might be an indication of where you live. For us, we ask ourselves how to engage them missionally, that is, how to communicate the good news of salvation, forgiveness, and new life in Christ. I am beginning to have a greater understanding of why people are homeless, whether Vietnam veterans or chronically unemployed, and now I do know some by name – Barbershop, an Afro-American Vietnam veteran who shows up at church from time to time; Tyrone, who sits outside the donut shop every morning looking for handouts, sometimes sitting in the rain with a blanket over his shoulder; and Morris who is in and out of treatment facilities. We don't have solutions for their problems and can't provide housing for them, but we can love them, respect them, and acknowledge them as image bearers of our Creator. We can buy them a sandwich or give them clothing. They do have physical needs and as Christians we should be generous yet in our giving. But we must tell them about Jesus. He is the One who can bring lasting change into their lives.

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