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Father, awaken and empower the American Church to provide real, lasting solutions to the growing homelessness crisis in our nation.

Analysis. Last weekend, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler sounded the alarm over his city’s homeless crisis, calling it “a human catastrophe.” Portland’s homeless population has shot up by 50% — from 2,037 in 2019 to upwards of 3,000 this year, resulting in some 700 homeless encampments over 146 square miles.

Have you taken your place on the wall?  

 

That’s just Portland. Many cities across the U.S. are experiencing similar problems. San Francisco counted 7,800 homeless people this year, Los Angeles 69,144,  Minneapolis 2,578, and Atlanta 2,017. According to the website PolicyAdvice, the total number of homeless people nationwide is estimated at 552,830.

The numbers only tell part of the story.  In San Francisco, citizen journalists took it upon themselves to document the squalor homelessness has brought to once respectable neighborhoods. Earlier this year, the BBC reported on the fentanyl crisis overtaking the homeless on the streets of San Francisco. And the mayor of Portland stated that the relationship between drug addiction and homelessness is what makes it a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Causes Are Many

Homelessness is a multilayered problem. During my tenure as a law-enforcement chaplain, I was called upon to form a suburban poverty task force to address the growing issue of homeless campers in the wealthy suburbs north of Atlanta. I learned that people are homeless for different reasons and that many of them are difficult to help.

Some are homeless by choice: They simply don’t want the burden of rent, mortgage, or utilities payments, and they prefer the freedom that camping outside gives them. A few told us that they had been offered jobs but refused them, because they could get more money by panhandling and not having to pay taxes.

Others are homeless because they are mentally ill and unable to function in any group setting or to maintain a home. Greg, a fixture for decades in several Atlanta suburbs, is an example: He had mental-health issues that would make him aggressive when off his meds. Greg received SSI money through his family nearby, who were otherwise unable to take care of him, and he preferred to camp out in the woods. He refused help, and there was no law on the books that would allow us to force him into a program. Only when his aggression got out of hand and he committed a crime was Greg ever taken off the streets — only for him to be right back out there again once he had done his time behind bars.

For many, drug addiction and homelessness go hand in hand. Either due to underlying issues of mental and emotional health, or as a means of coping with a sudden downturn of fortune rendering them homeless, many turn to illegal drugs such as heroin, and now the deadly fentanyl. That, in turn, worsens their condition and decreases their chances of ever breaking the cycle.

Many are difficult to help. Almost all the programs I know, especially the faith-based ones, require an entrant to be off drugs, willing to abide by house rules, and desirous to turn their life around. Those who ended up on the streets because of bad decisions or sudden adversity but who are otherwise free of drug addiction or mental-health problems usually do well in those programs. But they comprise only a small percentage of the total homeless population.

The Solutions Are Few

Solutions for an end to the homeless crisis are not easy to come by. Many cities are passing urban camping ordinances which prohibit improper use of public spaces including erecting tents in an effort to keep homeless people off the streets and out of their parks. Critics say that it simply moves them, often to jail, but does not help end their homelessness or break their cycle of poverty. Portland’s proposed ban on urban camping at least includes outreach workers to direct homeless people to approved campsites that include treatment and services, as well as the building of 20,000 affordable housing units over the next decade.

We are a nation that champions individual freedom. That makes it difficult to force anyone into housing, programs, or treatment. An individual must be willing to do that and, as most program directors will tell you, have significant willpower and perseverance to see the program through. Many are so severely addicted or affected by mental health problems that they lack the minimum amount of executive function to take care of themselves. Even if they are willing to submit to treatment, it generally takes years of whole-life change for them to become productive members of society again.

It seems as if the American dream has turned into a nightmare for some, even as I watch mentally unstable, drug-addicted young people camp out in a patch of forest adjacent to multi-million-dollar neighborhoods down the street from where I live.

An Out-of-the-Box Approach

Does a solution exist? According to a World Economic Forum article, Finland is one of the few countries that have been able to drastically reduce the homeless population. Finland did so by turning the traditional approach — first solve your problems, then you can get housing — on its head. The Finns found that offering affordable housing, to which a tenant has to contribute according to his or her ability first, before the government will subsidize the rest, provided people sufficient incentive to seek help so that they could keep that roof over their head. Once they were housed, they could get treatment, counseling, social services, and help with job training and placement. This model is now being exported to other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where it also seems to be having more success than the traditional models do.

But this approach is still predicated on the individual’s desire to get off drugs, receive mental-health treatment, and get a job. It is also expensive, because all of that, including most of the housing, has to be subsidized. The Finns argue that spending money this way saves money in the long run, as cycles of poverty and addiction get broken and people are brought back into society as productive contributors. Finland is, of course, much smaller than the U.S. Here, individual states and counties would have to buy into this approach and enlist the help of churches and nonprofits to provide housing and programs to turn deeply broken lives around.

Some churches have begun building tiny homes for the homeless. Others open their doors as warming shelters during cold winter nights. But such programs only provide a place for some to sleep as an emergency measure, and not as a path toward a whole-life turnaround.

The Spiritual Aspects

I believe that the growing multipronged crisis of mental illness, self-medicating drug addiction, and homelessness is a wakeup call for us to realize that America has lost its way and that human means cannot provide adequate solutions.

What lies at the root of most cases is not misfortune, but a hole in the soul: darkness, a soul wound, a loss of identity and personal worth, all leading to deep depression, anxiety, and all kinds of disorders. People then turn to drugs to self-medicate, instead of turning to God, the Healer. This problem ranges from marijuana and pills, to methamphetamines, heroin, and now fentanyl — all readily available everywhere and eagerly supplied by well-organized criminal networks. The compounding of these mental and emotional wounds through the effects of hard drugs destroys any individual ability to function. The easiest thing the sufferers can think of is to keep camping, keep availing themselves of whatever charity is offered, and to keep taking drugs to numb the pain.

I sometimes find myself praying for some sort of powerful move of God to end all this misery and rescue all these lives. But I have come under conviction lately that He does not intend to work that way. He works through His people.

In the words of Jesus: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’ ” (Matthew 25:34–40).

God’s people, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, also have His love dwelling in them. And that love is expressed by the very actions Jesus mentions in that passage. This is the nature of God in us put into action, and it makes us recognizable as His sheep. As a pastor friend once told me, “We have to stop going to church, and start being the Church.”

And we must do this not only to feed, clothe, and give shelter, but also to introduce people to the One Who desires to fill the hole in their souls, forgive their sins, and heal their wounds.

For this reason, I have begun to pray for an awakening of godly love in the Church, a love that expresses itself in generous, wise, consistent ministry to the lost, the last, the least, the left behind, and the left out — many of whom are even now out on our streets, hurting and strung out on drugs.

What if we were to cry out together to God, that He would awaken that in us? And what if we, in His power and provision, were to put the resources of more than 38 million evangelicals to use to change the lives of half a million for eternity?

That’s a God-sized prayer. A mountain to move. But it takes a faith only the size of a mustard seed to make happen. I have faith that it will happen, as we unite our voices and ask God to awaken the Church to release its wealth (billions in personal assets according to one major Christian foundation) and do the work to which the Church is called. After all, reaching the homeless in our backyard is as much a part of the Great Commission as is evangelizing an unreached tribe on the other side of the world.

Father, we pray that You would raise up laborers and resources in Your Church throughout America to do what the government can’t do: bring whole-life change to the homeless, and to shelter, clothe, and feed them — and above all, to introduce them to You, Who alone have the power to heal hearts and change lives. Enable and empower the churches and ministries already at work among this population. Ignite the hearts of many throughout our land to join them in this work. Forgive us where we have forgotten to be the Church and have instead only “gone to church,” and awaken us to this great mission field. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s pray that God would begin using us to help the poorest of the poor. Share your prayers below.

Remco Brommet is a pastor, spiritual-growth teacher, and prayer leader with over 40 years of experience in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the U.S. Born and raised in the Netherlands and having pastored his first church in Amsterdam, Remco moved to the U.S. in 1986. He and his wife, Jennifer, live north of Atlanta. When not writing books, he blogs and assists his wife as a content developer and prayer coordinator for True Identity Ministries. Jennifer and Remco are passionate about bringing people into a deeper relationship with Christ. Photo Credit: Steve Knutson on Unsplash.

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Janet
October 30, 2022

Thank you for this information and prayer. I live in Gwinnett county which has a large homeless population, I’ve heard.

Herb Johnston
October 28, 2022

The world economic forum is a terrible resource to quote information from-, and, is in fact , – exactly the enemy we are struggling to get out from under-,that is bringing a curse on our nation .
Let us remember who they are, –
1)Klaus Schwab and Henry Kissinger conspiring in 1970 or ’71.. to form this organization whose main goal now- is to eradicate humanity and create cyborgs in their place. Henry Kissinger has never been America’s friend.. and Klaus Schwab certainly is not. In fact these two people are an extension of the Nazi party that never died- completely.. and certainly lives on in America. Think of the people who read your ( here on this platform today)article-,and have never heard of the world economic forum-, and do not know of the nefarious and evil deeds that they are up to.. they will think you are quoting some Godly and humanitarian organization that should be lauded.. that is very irresponsible on your part. Why would you purposely prop up such evil characters on a Godly platform like this?
Two)- as stated in your article.. the church providing solutions , – is always the solution.
Granted the church has been crippled and weak for many many years-, for a very long time.. and until the crisis of cowardly pastors can be resolved., – which I understand is now happening.. and it will take some time to rebuild the character of at least those who see the error of their ways, not counting those who double down and insist on their holier than thou stance-, of being-.. or remaining separate from-, civic involvement.. until that time comes.. let us not be involved with any ungodly endeavors from the world economic forum-,or anyone that has anything to do with them. Like, for example , Elon Musk .. who designed the Hadron Collider .. whose purpose is to open a portal to Hell from the North Pole or thereabouts .. and that I’ve heard has been celebrated by satanic minions who do some type of symbolic dances at certain times to enhance evil spirits to emerge from that portal .. even though it has not yet been able to achieve its goal of opening that portal as far as I know ..
Their logic and their perspectives have been documented to Great extent in video on Rumble on the Thrive time show, – that Clay Clark and general Mike Flynn created. The same content has also been quoted elsewhere on conservative platforms.. there is no doubt about their intentions or the source of their spiritual perspective, which is Satan himself .. in fact They have referred to human beings as “useless eaters”,- and “hackable animals”.. and Klaus Schwab said himself when being interviewed by Charlie Rose-,that the experimental gene therapy..” will not so much change what you do..but will change who you are”… an obvious confession in reference to that evil concoction changing human DNA-and otherwise poisoning the human race.
Having a lot of Bible knowledge and respectable degrees from respectable institutions does not justifying quoting satanic sources in a Christian periodical.. which seems to me you’re counting on the naivete of those reading your words.
Just as much of these evil statements came from his top advisor, – Yuvall Noah Harari-, as from Schwab himself.

Lord it is obvious that we must be very careful about what content we absorb and who we absorb it from, and -and just because it is in the confines of a Christian platform..does not mean that the sources are not questionable.. please give our intercessors here great wisdom and discernment-,in deciphering and filtering the words that they read here.. and the sources that they come from.. and please have mercy on America as the enemy is definitely within-,as much as without-,as has been quoted elsewhere to a great extent. Lord please give us courage and resilience and fortitude to continue to press on in this fight- staying on our knees as much as possible- and staying out of sin in our own lives- that we would not grow weary in fighting the good fight.. and as Dutch Sheets says.. we believe that you are not through with America yet- that America..shall be saved!!!

In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen

1
Randi Nelson
October 28, 2022

Heavenly Father, please break the feminist grip on our nation, that encourages mothers to abandon their infants to GODless and loveless institutionalization, instead of lovingly nurturing their babies, toddlers, and children. We have had several generations of abandonment now, and these victims turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, and even the occult to fill the huge void in their hearts and lives. Please help us to love them with YOUR healing Love. Please restore the family that Satan has so successfully destroyed in America over the past 70 years, in JESUS’ Name, Amen.

1
Lori Meed
October 28, 2022

Remco consistently brings to our attention issues requiring both action and prayer and he does so with deep compassion as well as clarifying truth. As someone who served for a season on the streets of Kensington in Philadelphia among mostly drug addicts, prostitutes and all those described as ‘the least and the lost’, I affirm his diagnosis of soul sickness. But we can be Jesus’ hands and feet. Actually we must be. There is no plan B in this kingdom of God.

2
Joey
October 28, 2022

God has a miraculous solution waiting if His people will catch His vision and step in to do His work His way. Lord send your workers to this harvest field to bring life to the spiritually dead, to call things that are not as though they are, by the power of the Holy Spirit that so powerfully works in us. Government obviously can’t solve this. Lord, touch our hearts. Show us your glory.

2
Marsha Bashor
October 28, 2022

I do pray that there would be a solution for the homeless situation in our country. I pray that the hearts of those would be touched and that there would be a motivation for them to want a better life, and for the Lord to give them hope for their lives so their lives can be rebuilt on his foundation.

1
Ms Mary
October 27, 2022

We do indeed need to work to help the homeless, the poor, the prisoners. Our prison systems are a mess, from the top down, the laws, the courts, the administration, and the prisoners. Every area of society needs a move of God. We need to do all that we can. However, there is a powerful move of God that IS coming and without Him we can do nothing.

4
Julie
October 27, 2022

If you want to see for yourself the relationship between drugs like fentanyl and homelessness, just search “zombies of Philadelphia” (or “streets of Philadelphia”) on Youtube.

And states like Oregon have legalized even heroin!

Because that’s what America needs, more life-destroying, soul-murdering recreational drugs. Heaven help our country, heaven help our youth.

3
Leanne
October 27, 2022

May God protect Remco Brommet on the mission field. Grant him the strength and wisdom to continue his good works.

Please bring more people to the surface to face the homelessness in every country. Protect all those who are serving you to help the homeless. Help them seek your will in the mission field and grant them knowledge to continue the work you have laid before them.

Open the eyes of the homeless that they may see your will for them. Give them strength and courage to walk away from the ways of the world. Bring the homeless and those who are working tirelessly together in unity under you saving name.

Bless those who are looking for a better way of life. Help them see the people out there spreading your word and may their lives ever be touch with your saving grace.

May there be a spiritual awakening like never before in our world. You are the Savior and Maker of this world. We look to you for grace, mercy, peace and love.

In your saving name🙏🏻 Amen.

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Karen Secrest
October 27, 2022

There are 10000 homeless in our city and 60,000 that have needed the rent control because they work 40 to 60 hours a week and don’t make enough for rent. 65% of these people are jhandoicapped. Are you willing to hire someone in a wheelchair that needs accommodation,?
There are no churches for special needs children and no Christian counselors allowed.
We are mnow warned about dangerous streets downtown. Drugs and crime prevail.
We have the highest percentage income ad the fewest services of 90% of the states. Prevailing motto: not my problem. Go to work for big box. You and your 3 roommates can then oay rent. You will survive on macc and cheese and be out oof the cold..

6
    Herb Johnston
    October 28, 2022

    I think that before it is all said and done-,that there will be a great shift in the balance of self-supporting homeowners.. in relatively comfortable lifestyles- being phased out- as even they offer lodging and help to homeless people.. and church’s reaching out.. being part of the solution.. will be overwhelmed by the sheer flood of people, – and the Lord will work through that somehow, – but it is going to be very painful and ugly -,and I do not think it will be a neatly-wrapped-up-solution-that will be resolved efficiently in a short period of time. But I do believe the Lord is able-, to still do miracles.. and Will.., – the factor in question is how much as intercessors,and Christians in prayer-,we can take- in terms of the load.. and how much we’re willing to suffer in the process of what we give up.. I for one am already living on the poverty level- in a rented room- living on social security.. ( getting food from a local food bank, and the senior center- as I can)..and being that I need surgery..and my physical balance is off.. and I have lost 70% of the hearing in one ear.. it is hard for me to get retrained into a trade at 68 years of age- or compete with younger people in retail jobs.
    I have had four of those positions in the last 9 years.. but I’m praying the Lord will provide something.. even then there’s going to be-, I believe.. a great leveling off of lifestyles. BUT-look for the Lord to work in the miraculous.. I am not a doomsday prophet.. and in as much as I think that there will not be..necessarily-..some type of structured settling of problems through ‘coordinated agencies’ or any type of ‘structured resources’.. I believe that it will come from the ground level through our suffering as Christians and intercessors.. I still believe that there will be a resolution-,but America will look much different.. but I do not believe that that means that the Communists have the solution, or that socialism in any form is the answer. The Lord God Almighty is testing us, – I believe and we are going through the ringer.. even though roe versus Wade has been overturned.. we are in the breaking wave White Water phases of long deep resolutions to many years of sin.. and even though God is the God of Miracles-,as I have read the Bible and heard about 6,000 hours of sermons since 1988.. he rarely has us walk through a door and close it like Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz-, going from black and white-, to color.. it’s usually a bunch of arduous phases-, based on us praying to Him- and relating to each other- and sacrificing. Look at everything that he did in the Old Testament with the ancient Jews.. usually any involvement by those governments resulted in those government’s suffering some type of punishment.. as even as much as the Jews themselves were punished. Yahweh’s resolutions always involve people helping each other.. as the most basic form of that explanation.. obviously it is more involved than that, – involved and drawn out.. remember he also said” it is an adulterous Generation that seek signs and wonders”.. it is unmistakable to me that it is His will for us to walk through stuff, – walk the path with him.. learn by experience.. it is never usually about easy solutions.

    Lord I pray that you would have mercy on us as you walk with us through these next long seasons and years of recuperating our country ..and learning what we need to learn-,and becoming spiritually strong and deep in our foundations with you Lord- as we learn to not grow weary while well doing-, and to seek you in your Word.
    Lord have mercy on us all.

    In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen

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