Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
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  1. Homelessness and Drug Addiction

    dragon-eye3I posted on Facebook recently that homeless folks were just as worthy as other folks, just in a different situation. I received a rebuttal from another person, having met at least one homeless person. His response could be summarized thus:

    All homeless folks use drugs.
    Drug users are weak and thieves.
    Therefore, these are less worthy than others.

    Well, I know a number of homeless folks who do not use drugs, not addicted to anything, and I know a number of drug users (also homeless) who are not thieves. But there is a stereotype there that has some truth to it. Allow me to unpack a general trend of the homeless and addiction.

    According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately nine percent of people who become homeless do so because of addictions. This doesn’t mean that others aren’t addicts, but it wasn’t their addiction that caused their homelessness. So let’s just say that 15-20 percent of people become homeless with an addiction. What everyone agrees on is that most people aren’t addicts when they become homeless.

    The far majority of them. Approximately 70 percent of all people who become homeless every year find housing in less than a year, most of them in a few months. Most of these people certainly didn’t get housing maintaining or increasing their addictions. A few did. But most of them were never addicted to begin with and some gave up or reduced their addictions to meet their goals.

    What about the rest? Well, the people who are generally considered “homeless” are those who have been on the street for more than a year. These are the folks who have been without a decent night’s sleep for at least a year. These are the folks forced to move, with everything they own, sometimes more than once a day. These are the folks who tried to get work, to get into school, to find a place to live until they had given up hope for themselves. These are the folks who have had their possessions stolen. These are the people who have nothing left but regret.

    So almost all of these folks who are chronically homeless are also sufferers of chronic stress. And since they have no tomorrow, they need to forget. And drugs or alcohol offer that way out.

    Again, not everyone takes that way out. Not everyone wants to be seen as the wino, the bum on the corner. Or, I should say, some folks have enough self-respect left to care what people think about them, so they do all they can to avoid that most disgusting, most degrading of American occupations. The man openly drinking a 40 ounce outside a convenience store, who is shooting up in a public restroom are really the only ones who have no self-respect left to give in this country. They really don’t care, because they’ve lost everything.

    This is why people who think that folks in this state need a few months to brush themselves off and get out there and struggle for their sobriety, their self-respect and their survival don’t really understand the state of the chronically homeless, especially those who are addicted. It took at least a year, possibly years, to drive a person into abject hopelessness. It will take some time to climb out. I think of the way out as stepping stones.

    1. Self-respect This stage will only happen when a person receives respect that they didn’t necessarily deserve. When they see others respecting them by giving them kindness and opportunities for hope, they will think that maybe their view of themselves need to change, and they want to earn the respect they are receiving.

    2. Better living When they see themselves as someone who wants to live, they will see the squalor they live in, and want to improve their state. That desire doesn’t do anything unless they also have a hand up, because one cannot jump out of the ditch of homelessness themselves. But they will accept that hand, because they see the necessity of it. They may accept a place in a village, a spot in a treatment center, a place in a shelter they trust, so they could get a better life.

    3. Strength But most people who are chronically homeless will fail at their first attempts to improve their life. Some are out of practice, some are unlucky, some are too sensitive to disrespect, some have mental health issues and some have physical health issues. It will require inner strength for them to try again. Some have it, and some don’t.

    4. Progress One step leads to another, even if there are missteps. Entering into treatment sometimes leads to housing and outpatient treatment and possibly a job. Entering a wet village can later lead to living in a less chaotic dry village, which can lead to a job and permanent housing. Entering into a shelter can lead to a part time job and then a full time job and housing. No one’s path is the same. And the first step of progress can, with strength, lead to the next one.

    My point is, everyone is worthy. People are worthy. The person you see as a worthless drug addict on the corner is worthy, and we can have hope for her even if she does not have hope for herself. A wino doesn’t have to live that way. But they will unless two things happen. Someone gives them respect. And someone gives them a chance.

  2. Update on Anawim Changes


    Well, things are going to look different this year.

    Let’s get started with the big step.  God told me to step down from being in charge of Anawim. I could give you a lot of reasons why it’s a good idea why I should. But the main issue is that God said that it’s time and I think He’s right.  I’m sure he appreciates my vote of support.

    This is hard on both me and Anawim.  I’ve been leading Anawim for the past 20 years, and it is hard for us to separate.  But one of the main reasons why I need to step down is to allow other people to step up.  There are many, many more people involved in helping the homeless in East County than there were 20 years ago.  And if I get out of the way, they’ll be able to do the work that I’ve been overwhelmed by.

    So what does this mean?

    It means that there is a new Anawim board with new leadership.  The current presidents of the board are:
    Amanda Reece-Murphy, who heads the organization Rose City Backpacks of Hope and who has been working with the homeless in SE Portland for many years.
    Lisa Lake, who heads the organization Advocacy5, and who has been involved in organizing groups supporting the homeless for a number of years.
    I trust these two, and the rest of the board, with one of my children– Anawim Christian Community.  They will use this organization to support the homeless community in East County, to love them, to listen to them and to give them opportunities to serve Jesus.

    Before, I wrote that we were closed.  Well, we opened up for this week when snow and freezing rain put a sheet of ice over East County for a couple weeks.  Another church organization, No One Left Behind. in partnership with Anawim, opened up the church to give folks shelter out of the cold, both day and night.  Thank you for the organization of Ron Scheler and his team to make that happen.

    Beginning this week, Anawim will be opening on Saturdays again to provide showers, clothes, mail and food for folks in our area.  As the property becomes more secure and as we develop better relationships with our neighbors, we will expand our operations again, eventually to the same level we did before.  The closing has been hard on everyone, and we are ready to begin to serve people again.

    You aren’t done with me yet.  After a month break or so, I will return to Anawim’s board, in an advisory position.  Diane is still involved as treasurer.  I will need to move on to find other work elsewhere, but I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding it.

    In the meantime, I ask that if you have supported Anawim with prayer or donations, please don’t fail to do so now.  With all the changes, Anawim still needs your support.  I pray that God would stir you to do this.

    If anyone would like to contact these people directly, please do so by email:

    May God bless you and keep you and give you peace. -Steve

  3. Serving The Poor | Gleaners

    Serving the Community NeedPastor Steve Kimes of Anawim Christian Community and other organizations are able to pick up food from the gleaners that they can distribute to the communities they serve: the poor and needy in the Northwest.

  4. Podcast: Sweeps Kill

    arrestedHere’s a new podcast of Nowhere to Lay His Head!

    This month I interview… myself (well, I talk for a while) about how sweeps kill and how I worked this last year to try to get the city to stop killing sweeps.

    Anyway, here’s the podcast:

    And here’s some articles confirming my actions this year:

    Forgotten Realms: the beginning

    Arrested in Gresham for speaking out for the homeless

    Camp Serenity

    Ending Camp Serenity

    Sweeping 500 off of the Springwater Corridor

    Trial dismissed

    Fire at Forgotten Realms



  5. Winter is Coming!

    atop-the-misty-mountainsThus far, it’s been a very mild fall, with some heavy rains on some days.  But we know that winter is coming and with that will be greater needs.  We want to have donated or purchase more sleeping bags, tents, tarps and winter clothing this year.   In East Multnomah County the winds are cold and few people, especially the recently homeless, are prepared for the conditions.  We want to help, with your help.

    If you are local (in the Portland area), and want to donate any of these items, please give us a call at 503-888-4453.  We can arrange a meeting place or possibly a pick up.  We could especially use men’s pants from the 32-40 waist size!  We always need coats, socks, rain ponchos, long underwear and other adult-sized winter items.

    If you are out of town or unable to meet up but would like to donate, there are a couple ways you can do that.  Of course, you can donate money via check or PayPal on this page.   Besides the donations for winter items, we could also use help keeping up our regular rent costs this winter.

    Or, if you’d like to donate more directly, you can purchase the items below on Amazon, and send it directly to us.  Just request that the delivery address be 3733 N Williams, Portland OR 97227 and we’ll get the supplies to people in need.  If you’d like to help us more, sign up with Amazon Smile, and ask that with each purchase you make, a percentage goes to Anawim Christian Community! :)

    Two man tents for an emergency situation for one person

    Four man tents for long-term shelter for two people

    Large tarps for protection from heavy rains (brown, 12 x 16, please)

    Sleeping bags (30-20 degrees, please)

    We want to give a big thanks to Operation Nightwatch for providing us with so many blankets, as well!


  6. Conversation about Springwater Corridor

    Amanda Murphy-Reese and Steve have a conversation about events leading up to the moving of 500 homeless folks ordered by the city of Portland and the results of this on the homeless and advocates.

    You can listen at the link below, or you can sign up for Steve’s podcast, Nowhere To Lay His Head on iTunes

    Steve’s conversation with Amanda on NTLHH

    Here are pictures of the Springwater corridor before the sweep.


  7. Changes

    wild-abandonmentI want to apologize for not contacting you folks about Anawim and our work for a while.  This year has been insane, and the months from August on, doubly so.

    We were deeply involved in the moving of 500 homeless folks from the Springwater corridor. And we and all the advocates with us have been exhausted since.  Later this week we will give you a chance to hear a conversation between Steve and another homeless advocate who participated in that.

    We also discovered that someone has been using the Sanctuary property, that we have been assisting managing for years now, as a central point to distribute meth.  After this news, we shut down quickly and have been working at restructuring and cleaning the property up so this wouldn’t happen again.  For right now, we have no central services or day shelters.  This is, hopefully, temporary.  But we need to make sure that our property and neighborhood and those who come for compassion and support are safe.

    But we haven’t stopped working.  We are distributing food to camps and establishing more sites for showers and clothing distribution.  We want to be available, especially for those whom we moved in the recent sweeps.

    As well, Steve and other advocates are on trial for protesting at Gresham city hall earlier this year.  The trial begins today, on Monday.  We will update you about this.

    What we ask from you, right now, is prayer.  Please pray for the future of the Sanctuary property.  Please pray for the outcome of the trial.  And most of all, please pray for the continued peace of those on the street.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace.

  8. Workshop on Helping the Homeless

    Video Capture from Helping The Homeless Workshop with Steve Kimes. Video Footage by Mary Anne Funk

    Below are four sections of a workshop taught by Pastor Steve Kimes of Anawim Christian Community, who has been working with the homeless for 22 years.  It is called Introduction to Helping the Homeless.  It was taught in St. John’s Christian Church in Portland Oregon.  It was produced by Mary Anne Funk.

    The first section is giving some basic information about houseless folks in the United States, with special time focusing on how folks become houseless.

    Introduction to Helping the Homeless: Who are the Homeless?

    The second section is about a neighborhood’s response to the homeless and why there is often negative responses to even good people on the street:

    Introduction to Helping the Homeless: Community Response

    The third section is giving a basic overview of essential ways in which the homeless should be helped.

    Introduction to Helping the Homeless: Basics on Helping

    The fourth section is specifically about the St. Johns community and the homeless needs there, with a special encouragement to begin day shelters!

    Introduction to Helping the Homeless: The need in St. Johns

  9. The Cause of Homelessness

    abstract archipellagoMarie lived with him for years.  Sometimes he would get angry and lash out, but it was only occasional.  The yelling wasn’t too bad.  And the bruises and scars would heal up.  The worst part was the embarrassment when her friends would ask about him.  She would deny his abuse every time, even if it didn’t make sense, like when a handprint showed up on her face.

    It was different when their daughter was old enough to be his target.  Three years old.  Marie would defend her, even pick Rose up at times to prevent him from harming her.  Marie warned him.  She told him that if he put a hand on her, then she would leave him.  He finally did.  So she left.  She wouldn’t allow her daughter to be exposed to the trauma that she endured.  Yes, now she saw it as trauma.  She felt the fear that she had never felt for herself.  So she walked out.

    She knew better than to call his family for support.  In their eyes, Jack was perfect, a wonderful son.  So she called her mother.  “Marie, you need to submit to your husband,” she was told.  She called some friends.  “Don’t you have some money set aside?”  “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any place here.”  She called the Women’s Crisis Line, and was told that there was a waiting list for all the domestic violence shelters.  Probably the soonest she could get in is in three months.  She had nowhere to go.

    After two days on the street, she contacted a social worker with Adult and Family Services.  He was skeptical about her story, but agreed to give her a motel room for a week.  After six days, she has contacted everyone she knows, everyone in the book they gave her.  She called a service network, but the lines are always busy.  She has one more night.

    There are many reasons why people become homeless.  Domestic abuse is the number one reason for women with children.  Some people live on the street or in their cars because they lost their job or received a “no cause” eviction.  Only 9 percent of people become homeless because of addiction issues.  Only eleven percent become homeless due to mental illness.

    The one cause of homelessness, for every person who ends up on the street, is a lack of a support network.  Many people lose their housing because they lost their jobs or other reasons, but they don’t become homeless.  That’s because they have family or friends who support them enough to give them a place to stay until they can get on their feet.  Most people who have severe mental illness don’t become homeless, because there is a foster care system, and because many family members care for their own.

    There are a few homeless who are on the street because their criminal behavior make it impossible for them to live with.  But the majority of homeless are there because they have no one to turn to, no one to give them a place to live, even for a while.   This is the only real cause of homelessness.

  10. Who Wants to be Homeless?

    Mercy1In our worship, people are allowed to speak up in the middle of the sermons.  I had just made a statement, “As opposed to the misconceptions of many who are housed, homeless people do not choose homelessness as a lifestyle.”

    As is typical, Theo speaks up, “I did.”

    “Really?  Because if you did, you’d be one of the few.”

    Jeff, another homeless man spoke up, “You mean that you sat down one day and thought, ‘You know what?  I’d really like to be homeless.”

    Theo laughed, “Well, not exactly in those words.  I raised fifteen kids for twenty years.  All those years I worked, paid rent and paid bills.  Frankly, I was tired of it.  I’m happy with my life right now.”

    Jeff replied, “But didn’t you tell me that you were forced to be homeless after being released from jail?  That you had lost your place and your job and you couldn’t get them back, even if you tried?”

    “Well, that’s true.”

    I chimed in again.  After all, it was supposed to be my sermon.  “So did you really want to be homeless?  Or did you find homelessness to be the best option after the other options were exhausted?”

    “I didn’t start thinking that being homeless was a great idea, if that’s what you mean.  But I came to that, eventually. And I’m happy. With how things turned out.”

    Most people, when they make the statement, “Most of the homeless want to be homeless,” haven’t actually spoken to many homeless people, or checked in depth what they actually want.  It is true that there is a percentage of homeless people who are content with their life and they don’t want to give it up.  There is another group that find the idea of an apartment confining, or even triggers anxiety being locked in a box, surrounded by other people they don’t know.

    But that is different than saying that homeless people chose homelessness.  When a person begins their journey in homelessness, they are frightened, and it is the last choice they would want to make.  Most homeless folks admit that they never thought they would be homeless.  Some even feel that homelessness was a judgment on them because they looked down on the poorest themselves.  Being homeless themselves was the last thing on their mind.

    Although there may be a few exceptions, it can be said that no one chose homelessness, at least at first. It isn’t a lifestyle that anyone desires, especially women, although some grow used to it and learn to appreciate the freedom it gives.

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