Monthly Archives: November 2011

Perceptions & Reality: Addiction

This is part 2 of a series discussing our ideas, stereotypes, and approaches to the homeless.

That bum will just use any money he gets to buy alcohol or drugs.

This is one the most often cited reasons for not giving a homeless person money.  And the fact of the matter is, it’s a reasonable response.  The overwhelming majority of the men and women we meet on the streets of downtown Birmingham struggle with addictions to alcohol and/or drugs.  In a survey of 196 men and women on the streets, 61.2% admitted to us that they use alcohol on a regular basis and 28.6% admitted to regular drug use.  After two years of spending time with the homeless of Birmingham, we believe that in reality these numbers are significantly higher.

For most of them drugs and alcohol abuse is something that has been modeled for them since childhood.  It was in their house, their school, and their neighborhoods.  It was a part of the culture they grew up in.  Therefore, it’s something they have carried with them from an early age and has impacted their education, relationships, and jobs.  It has destroyed marriages, relationships with their children, and opportunities for their future.  It has lead them to burn virtually every bridge in their life.

So, we may be right when we say, “He’s just going to buy drugs or beer if I give him a couple of bucks.” That isn’t really the issue.  The issue is our hearts. Is that response just a convenient excuse to avoid the person?  You see, if we make that statement with a turned up nose and just move on with our day, all we’re doing is ignoring someone in desperate need of investment, relationships, and most importantly, Jesus.  We’re essentially saying that inaction is the proper response.

However, if we make that statement, but then make a conscious decision to invest in that man or woman’s life, we’re taking steps to love, build up, encourage, and ultimately point him or her to Christ. The issue is so much deeper than their drug or alcohol addiction.  We’re talking about people that in large part have never had anything else modeled for them.  Drug and alcohol abuse and dysfunction in relationships has been the norm for most of their lives.  At their core, their most desperate need is for someone to model Jesus to them on a consistent basis.

So, what are your thoughts on the issue?  What’s your normal response when a homeless man or woman asks you for money?  What’s the motivation for your response?

If you are looking for a framework for how to invest in the homeless here in Birmingham, we invite you to join us on Sunday afternoons to go downtown and serve a meal.  It’s a great opportunity for both young and old to get their hands dirty and follow Christ’s command to care for the poor and needy around us.  It’s a place where those that have much and those that have little are on an even playing field and true relationships can be formed.  As relationships are built and the good news of Christ is shared, we’re then able to look for opportunities to go deeper and begin the process of helping people get back on their feet.  We would love for you to join us to go downtown this week.  We meet every Sunday at the Shades Mtn. Baptist Student Building at 2:30pm and are back by 4:30pm.

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October Rewind

October saw our Sunday meals grow to the largest they have been all year.  During the summer months we had a steady 60 or so folks eat with us each week. Over the past month or so the number started creeping up into the 80s and then this past Sunday we had over 120 come through the line. With more and more people coming to our weekly meals, we need more volunteers each week to join us downtown. With that many people showing up, it’s easy for them to get their food and slip away without a personal touch. Join us Sundays at 2:30pm at the Shades Mtn. Baptist student building to go downtown, serve a meal, and share the love of Christ with the broken and needy here in Birmingham.

One of the many ways we saw God at work this month was through a family we met at one of our Sunday meals. We met the Montgomerys and their two small children on the 23rd. They were staying in a nearby hotel and were down to their last $17. They had no jobs, no family support, and no where to go after that Sunday night.  We helped with temporary housing the next two nights and on Wednesday we were able to place them in semi-permanent housing where they can stay for 3-5 months. After just one phone call we were able secure a job for the husband so he will be able to provide for his family. These are things that can normally take weeks or even months to fall into place. God was at work opening doors quick and it was amazing to get to watch it all unfold. Continue to pray for this family as we develop a relationship with them and continue to show Christ’s love to them.

October marked the beginning of our big fundraising push. Our goal is to get 150 monthly and 25 annual supporters by the end of 2011. This financial support allows us to continue to build relationships, sponsor folks in recovery, secure housing, find jobs, and provide the godly support system they need to help rebuild their lives. To date we have 17 monthly supporters. Please pray about whether God is leading you to support us financially. You can visit the following link to sign up for a monthly donation or for more information: Donate.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We hope to see you Sunday afternoon!

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