Sharing our Vision: Being deliberate in the ways that we are helping the impoverished in our community
We see poverty every day at the Jesus Center through our guests. We see both the short-term effects with those who are struggling with the absence of something, as well as the long-term effects. Short-term struggles often present in ways such as frustration, uncleanliness or hunger. And while we offer an array of services: showers, meals, even mental health counseling, it’s not enough. As you begin to look at long-term effects, we are dealing with much deeper issues that probably have been present in our guests’ lives for years, if not always.
Unwinding that story is imperative to transformation, but it takes time, and it takes the right approach. Our society usually defines poverty as the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. I think this definition is at best partial. Many of us have experienced a lack of material possessions or lowered financial status, and yet, we survived. Many children have been raised in modest homes by parents with modest financial means, and yet they have flourished.
Let’s look at this a little differently. When we challenge ourselves to define poverty differently, it allows us to open our minds and encourages us to consider alternative solutions. Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of peace in all its meanings.₁ This description of poverty offers hope to those suffering, and encourages us to develop the necessary steps to work with them through their impoverished state.
In Bryant Myer’s book, “Walking with the Poor” he tells us that there are four relationships that serve as the building blocks for all human activity: our relationships with God, self, others & the rest of creation. In fact, the fruits (positive and negative) of these relationships are manifested in our economic, social, religious and political systems.₂ Most of us have experienced a struggle in one of these four relationships in our life, and so we ”get” how detrimental this can be on our bodies, on our minds, and how it can block our ability to heal.
So what does this all mean? Why is it important? We want our supporters, our community and our volunteers to share our vision. We want you to see that we are deliberate in the ways that we are helping the impoverished in our community to be reintegrated into mainstream society.
We start by developing relationships with our guests. This happens over a meal, after a shower, in the Free Store, while working on obtaining a legal ID, or at intake in our women’s shelter. We take the time to learn about who they are, why they are here and then identify any resources that we or other service organizations can offer them. This first step is often the most difficult as we work to build trust. Through this humanizing process we begin to observe and to point out the strengths of each person. Fortunately, we all have strengths, God blessed each and every one of his children with gifts.
A current intern of Bloomin’ Hope says this:
“I really loved the comradery with the other women & working with them as a team. But my favorite thing about working at the flower cart was being reminded that I not only love working with the public, but that I’m also pretty good at it! Bloomin’ Hope gave me the confidence to go out and re-enter the work force.”
What can you do?
We work hard to restore people before they internalize poverty, before they are hardwired to believe that they can’t move forward making their road so much harder and longer. I always say, this is patient work. And we need your help. Your continued financial support means that transformation happens in the lives of the impoverished in our community. We encourage you to educate yourselves, dialogue with us, and tour our facility to see this work up close.
P.S. We mentioned in our January edition that we would likely be expanding our housing program here at the Jesus Center. That opportunity was presented to us, and while we are not ready to release all of the details quite yet, we want you to stay tuned! In the upcoming days we will be making it official, and inviting our community to invest in our newest housing program.
- When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert
- Walking With the Poor, Bryant Myers