The third way to address homelessness in my blog series“Ten Ways to Address Homelessness” with 60 practical ways to make it happen is . . .
- Listen to their stories.
Every person has a story, and every story matters to God. At Wichita Falls Faith Mission, we are committed to listening and getting personally involved with the men, women, and children God sends to us. We know that programs and buildings don’t change lives and rewrite stories. It’s people serving people. It’s one person taking the time to understand and help another. Here are six action steps for listening to their stories:
- Really listen. Taking the time to fully engage with someone shows we care This takes time but it is time well spent. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but it bears repeating, “They don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.”
- Listen without judgment. The Bible says of God, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12, NIV). Use discernment when listening to the stories of the homeless and people struggling with addiction while praying God will set them free. Remember God loves them just as they are but too much to leave them that way.
- Give peer support to a veteran. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are 39,471 homeless veterans in the U.S. This number only gives an insight into the emotional and mental struggles some of our veterans face.
- You might not be able to sit down with a homeless person, but you can offer support to someone who listens to countless stories every year. A simple way of providing support is to send a note of encouragement to someone who works at a shelter.
- Consider being a mentor at a homeless shelter. Faith Refuge is in the beginning stages of starting a mentoring program. Please contact Steve Sparks for more information.
- Remember relationships can get messy. We should recognize and honor physical boundaries as well as relational and emotional boundaries. If you desire to listen to the stories of the homeless, reach out to someone who is experienced in the area of helping the homeless and gain insight on ways to best help. Unfortunately our best and sincerest efforts can fail to provide long-term help if we are not careful.
It may not seem like much, but listening is sometimes the most powerful and helpful thing you can do. It shows you care. It says that they are important. It creates a level playing field because, “Every person has a story and every story matters to God.”