Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
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  1. Give Like God

    Meeting PlaceI am a big believer in doing what Jesus says.

    Moses has got some wisdom, Solomon should be taken with a gain of salt, Paul is easily misunderstood, but Jesus, he’s my guy. Being my Lord and Savior, you know.

    So Jesus said, “Give to everyone who asks of you.”

    When I really looked at that command, REALLY looked, that was a difficulty.  I mean, what if someone asks for my house?  What if someone asks for my car?  Another translations says, “Give to those who beg,” but the Greek word isn’t “beg”, it’s the most common word for “ask” or “request.”   In the context, Jesus is talking about loving enemies and his emphasis is to give to everyone, without exception.

    So I tried it out.

    Every person who held a sign, I gave to.  If they asked for money, I gave them that.  If they asked for food, I gave them that.  If a person asked for my time, I gave them that.  If someone asked for a place to crash for the night, I gave them that.  And sometimes that didn’t turn out well.  A couple people were using drugs in my bathroom.  A couple people took things from my house.

    I needed to think about this, in the context of what Jesus was saying.

    First, Jesus said I had to love everyone, without exception.  That meant my family too.  So there were people in my household (family and non-family) whom I am required to care for, but if I harm their well-being by helping others, that isn’t so great.  That isn’t loving everyone.  So I can fail to keep Jesus’ command by obeying Jesus’ command.  This requires wisdom.  So I only invited people in my house whom I knew wouldn’t harm others in the house.

    Second, Jesus said I had to love.  Not all giving is loving.  When we pray to God, he doesn’t give us what we ask for all the time. He gives us “every good and precious gift”.  Only good things, not things that would harm us.  A loaf of bread, not a snake.  So we need to give in the same way.  I needed to make sure that what I gave benefited the other person, not just whatever they asked for.  This also requires wisdom.

    To give according to love requires listening and paying attention to other people.  What do they really need?  What are they really asking for?  Jesus himself did this when he didn’t just heal a blind man, but asked him, “What do you want?”  Giving isn’t a one way street.  It begins with a dialogue.

    Often I can give to make me feel good.  I need to give to truly benefit the other in front of me.  Sometimes I can get some food from a local store and that’s enough.  But most of the time, my giving requires more work and wisdom than that.

    But I realized in giving

  2. A New Era for Anawim

    de9_neighbortentOn January 28, 2018 Anawim Christian Community joined Advocacy5 in establishing a place for homeless people to obtain some stability and to connect to the tools they need to get off the street.

    On February 2, 2018, the city of Portland shut down this community and took all of our possessions.

    The reason they took it is because we placed the village on public land.  The land in which the village was placed already had fifty or more houseless folks whom we had been serving by bringing food.  We collected and disposed of more than twenty large bags of garbage, established low-impact platforms and placed a few houseless in the village while we waited for the city to respond.

    The city responded by sending rangers and police to escort us off the property with the threat of being arrested, and taking all we had established.

    As a society, we need to find alternatives to many cities’ action of sweeps and harassment of homeless folks.  Like all kinds of oppression, it is our responsibility as followers of Jesus, who set people free from oppression, to stand and provide other opportunities.  Village of Hope is one of those opportunities, a piece of harm reduction and stability for those who know only crisis and harassment, everyday.  It is a work of Jesus, showing our city and the world how love can conquer poverty.

    We need your help.  The ACLU has taken interest in our work and they might be able to stop the city from forcing us to be swept.  But we need more signatures on this petition to prove public support of our action.  Please sign this petition.  If you can help us in any other way, please send us an email to


  3. Anawim Revived!

    sunflowerHonestly, it’s been a tough year for Anawim.

    We lost our home for the houseless, the RedBarn, which we have hosted meals, day shelters and overnight shelters at since 1995.  The property has been sold to another local congregation and we pray that God would bless them with the property on which he blessed us for so many years.  We also want to thank the Pacific NW Mennonite Conference who allowed us to have the RedBarn as our home for so many years, and remained patient through our difficulties and discussions with neighbors and city.  And thanks especially to Amanda, Lisa and Larry who worked hard to transition us when Steve was out of commission.

    We’ve still been hard at work, though.

    -We continued to deliver three thousand pounds of food weekly to camps of houseless folks in East Multnomah County.  We have a team of people delivering food, blankets, clothes and other supplies to those in need.
    -Steve has a weekly Bible Study in Gresham located at East County Church of Christ.  We are currently going teaching the Sermon on the Mount. If you would like to see some of the teaching, it is available at:

    And now we are approaching our next project, beginning January 20.

    Just as a quick note: this project isn’t to be made public until January 22, but we are so excited about it, we want to tell you now.

    Anawim is in partnership with other houseless advocacy groups, Advocacy5, Right 2 Survive, Village Coalition and Boots on the Ground  (all of whom we have been working with for more than two years) to begin a new, organized homeless camp!

    Let me explain:

    For decades, houseless folks would be forced to move about two or three times a year, when city officials asked police officers to give them warning and then force them to move.  It was an annual tradition, usually in the fall and in the spring.   Since 2016, however, both Gresham and Portland established offices to constantly move houseless folks all around the county.  These offices have now hired private firms to do this work, for which they get paid all year round, even throughout the winter.

    Some additional services have been provided, such as getting apartments and a couple hundred more shelter beds, but this is not much help compared to the need of thousands of people on the street.  And with the constant “sweeps” of houseless folks throughout the county, live is more stressful and more difficult to go through the bureaucracy to obtain services or housing.

    Anawim and the other advocacy groups will be providing an opportunity to change that.  We want to establish a camp where houseless folk can live long term without being swept and we would provide assistance to obtain the services that are available, with the goal being that each person would leave the camp to their own housing and a life of hope.

    We see this as participating in Jesus’ ministry of releasing people from oppression and providing healing.  We will provide counselling for trauma, mediation for conflict and helping people fill out forms and keep appointments.  This is the natural outgrowth of the work we did at the RedBarn.  There, we provided a space for people to meet with agencies, to rest, to work, to get cleaned and to prepare for continuing their life.  In this camp, we will provide safety and direction, helping people specifically meet their own goals of health and a better life.

    We need your prayers to make this happen.  And we need some help to establish the camp.

    The camp will have platforms and heat and a kitchen and a community room.  We need help establishing this model.  If you would like to help, we could use finances.  Or you could provide gift cards to Lowes, Fred Meyers, Home Depot, Safeway or Walmart.  Please help if you are able.  If you’d like to give to our PayPal account, go to this link:

    And please pray.  This is exciting and some people are not interested in seeing houseless people helped in this way.  We need God’s help to provide a place of Jesus’ peace and mercy.  Thanks.

  4. Tragedy and Hope

    Clackamas SCA little less than a week ago, tragedy struck.

    Clackamas Service Center has been an essential place for the homeless in south east Portland to receive essential services.  They serve daily meals, offer showers, offer warmth in the cold and cool in the heat.  They allow people to use their address for mail and a place for their medications to be distributed, as well as plugs to charge phones.

    This last Monday, an arsonist struck, and fire made their building unusable. They will be renovating it, making it unusable for six months.

    A group of leaders and advocates, including Anawim leaders, met last Tuesday to see what we could do to fill the gap in the meantime.  We quickly created a list of services and volunteers who would help serve meals immediately.  We also have a plan to provide showers and electric outlets.

    It is a tragedy for the homeless of East County to lose both the Red Barn and Clackamas Service Center at the same time.

    Right now, this means that Anawim is involved in three major ministries:
    -Providing 3000 pounds of food to homeless camps and meals to folks in East County
    -A shower and clothes ministry in North Gresham
    -Providing food and service to South East Portland in this emergency time

    Please pray for us, as we continue to do what we can to help the gap.

    If there is anyone in Portland who would like to provide food or help in some other capacity, please email us at


  5. God Directing Us Ahead

    255015_10150212174281267_5875934_nLast Saturday, Anawim voted to withdraw completely from the Sanctuary/Red Barn property. This isn’t a light decision, as we have been working since last October to return to that property to open up the day shelters and night shelters again. But many factors determined that it is not meant for us to open up there again.

    Anawim, however, is far from dead. Since we closed, we have been distributing (literally) tons of food to camps. For the last few months, we have been providing showers and clothes at another church facility. And we are pursuing another place to open up a day shelter. After we move all of our property out of Sanctuary, we will be free to focus on how best to serve and build community with our homeless neighbors.

    In much deep reflection lately, I have been especially grateful to Jeff and Yvan Strong for their years of service. Years ago, I begged the Lord for a partner to help me in the work of Anawim, and I couldn’t have found a better partner. This couple grew their own vision as well as supported mine and we worked together, along with many other essential volunteers, to make RedBarn a thriving, serving, transforming community.

    And I want to thank especially Amanda Elizabeth for stepping up to keep Anawim alive. Despite her own deep struggles this last year, she has worked to keep this organization alive and serving.

    And, of course, I have to thank Diane Kimes, without whom I never would have gotten in this mess to begin with. She has always been my partner and my best supporter, walking together with me through the crazy times.

    This is a transition. We are beginning again.

  6. Generosity on the Street by Karen

    DSCF8687More by Karen Burch:

    Have you ever had your good nature always get the better of you?

    Sometimes I can’t seem to stop myself from helping people no matter what they have done. Lol I know I am going to kick myself for this in the next couple of days. I really hate drama and it just landed on my door step needing a place for a tent so it won’t flood and they can go work.

    Someone just slap me it will be quicker then a week of drama. Rofl


    There are people who come out here and help because they honestly want to help.

    Then you have groups that come out to help because it’s a school or sunday school “project”. “God told me to feed and cloth the poor”(sorry Steve Kimes some do it for the wrong reason under the lords name.) “They stand here and pray over you tell you have sinned but come now the Lord will save you.”

    God isn’t going to give me a house unless I make the effort. It’s not just the system though its the mentality of people NONE of us deserve to be put out like garbage and forgotten then told it is our fault. You beat the people down. At some point we are going to rise up.


    A note from Steve:

    Karen is not disrespecting people who bring help, but those who think that the homeless need to be “saved” in order to obtain housing.  There are people on the street that have greater spiritual lives than most church-goers understand.  Many on the street go to church.  Many pray more frequently and harder than most people could ever understand.

    Let’s remember the words of James: “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor.” (James 2:5-6).

    Let us never look down on someone because they are on the street.  More likely than not, they will be testifying about us to the Lord about whether we treated them in love or not.

  7. Community on the Street by Karen

    1653962_692959044060955_285601788_nMore writing by Karen Burch:

    It isn’t all bad living on the streets. There are things that rarely happen nowadays when you live in a house.

    First you are more connected to the people in your community (if you can stay in the area). Businesses and homeless alike see you everyday and get to know you as you get to know them. There is a stronger bond between neighbors out here. People more willing to help then a neighbor who lives in a house.

    We have patched up animals and people. We have helped when a fire happens pulling dogs and people out. We pull together when the police start harassing us. More so then those in a housed community.

    Some of the people I have met out here have touched my heart and every time they get cut loose about something I would like to hurt someone. Peoples’ past are just that: the PAST. Who you are now, standing in front of me showing me who you are; and where and who you want to be in the future, counts a hell of a lot more than someones freaking past. We all make mistakes and pay for them no need to be punished forever. Not one of us is perfect we have no right to judge someone unless they prove they deserve to be judged.

    Never assume anything. That assumption could lead you to hate when there isn’t a need for hate. These are things forgotten when it comes to the homeless.


    So our missing family member came home.

    I had been calling shelters and hospitals to find him. No hospital would tell me if he was there. Come to find out he had been in the hospital for 6 days and a hotel for 2.

    That is always a problem people disappear all the time and you don’t know what happens to them. If they go out of your neighborhood “your stomping ground” you lose track of them. People don’t know them like they would in your area.

    So until they come home you wonder where they are. If they are alright. IF they are coming back.

    When people go missing for to long Paul and I go looking put out the word in places where they go often.  They all come check in with “mama Karen”. They know at least someone out here cares what happens to them because most don’t have someone who would care. These are people out here.

    They are not garbage no matter what their problems they are people they are family. We are all just trying to survive. 



  8. Why Statistics about Street Folks are Tricky

    DSCF8879In my classes and posts I quote a lot of statistics about homeless folks, and most of them are only worth the paper they are printed on.  (Get it?  They aren’t printed on paper… ).

    We want statistics, because we want to quantify “the problem”, which is homelessness. If we can box it, measure it, then we can reduce it or eradicate it.  Were it so simple.  Homelessness isn’t something we can distinctly measure and wipe off the map.  So much of homelessness is an attitude, both of the homeless and of housed neighbors.  And trying to measure homeless folks is like trying to count the drops of water in the ocean.

    Here are some of the issues those who gather statistics have:

    1. Homeless folks don’t want to be found
    In many cities, homeless folks and camps are targets.  Targets of the police, of housed neighbors, of people who take advantage of them, of highway workers and others.  Many groups automatically see them as criminals, or at least as “undesirables.”  Folks on the street who would like to live a peaceful life find that hiding is the best way to do it.  If the police can’t find them, then the likelihood is that those who wish to count the homeless can’t find them, either.

    2. Street numbers change
    Not only do the numbers of homeless change from year to year, they change from month to month.  Most of the homeless have family, friends or jobs that will help them get off the street.  Sometimes the right friend just finds out, a family member’s heart is tugged just right, or a family just needs to save enough money.  In the summer, friends and family feel less for those on the street than in the winter.  And there are cycles of time when landlords evict their tenants, and times when they don’t.  If certain government programs for the ill, the mentally ill or the poor are cut, then homelessness increases. On the other hand, if shelters or programs develop, homelessness might decrease.  Or it might not.  So a single count every two years is woefully inadequate to give us a picture of homelessness at any other time.

    3. Who counts as homeless?
    Finally, statistics are remarkably different depending on who is being counted.  Recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development posted statistics about Homelessness, counting only those who are on the street.  The Point in Time count every other year counts people sleeping on the street, those in their cars and those in shelters.  Others will count those forced to live in motels, on friend’s couches or in other overcrowded situations.   Some will actually compare one group with another to try to show that they have almost eradicated homelessness.  Utah, for example, was able to claim that they reduced homelessness by 91 percent by changing the definition of who is “chronically homeless”.   So numbers might not make sense, especially compared from one agency to another.

    We need the statistics in order to give us a general idea of the scope of the issues involved, or to determine trends.  But exact counts are not possible, unfortunately.

  9. Karen: A Voice from the Street

    Karen and PaulKaren Burch lives in her van.  She is threatened by the police, by others who pass through her neighborhood.  But she endures.  And she writes.

    Karen is an articulate homeless writer who communicates the reality on the street, and how folks on the street support each other to survive.  Occasionally she will have a post to give us a flavor of what it’s like on the street.

    Sometimes I wish I could do more for some of the people out here.

    Like the young man who just joined our camp. He fits what we look for in family and campmates/housemates. Doesn’t want drama; wants to get where he wants to go at a pace he can handle. He’s a veteran he deserves better then the streets.

    Our family member Gypsy Wanderer wants to work and hopefully will be called here soon as the weather is better. If not then he is going to start his disability (which he should be on).

    Paul and I never seem to make it to anything we need to do when it comes to that stuff something always comes up. Doing better at some of it making him take time. The need for a stable neighborhood for all of us is becoming paramount things like last night make feeling safe and truly able to sleep a difficulty when we all have PTSD and other issues.


    Something I learned quick on the streets: DON’T lose who you are and don’t lose your will and drive to accomplish what you want.

    It may take time to get there but at least you don’t lose yourself and become what they accuse you of being. Losing yourself is far worse then anything else that could happen to you out here. You become what they say you are because they beat you down and run you down till you are to tired to fight.

    Unfortunately it sometimes backfires and instead of caving and becoming some of us stand up taller and start fighting back.

    I have rights. My house is my van. My HOME is my husband and our animals. I AM a CITIZEN of this CITY and of this COUNTRY.

  10. Jesus was Marginalized

    DSCF8805Jesus was marginalized for hanging out with the poor,

    the gangbanging zealot and despicable whore.

    He went to dark places, the ghetto and hood.

    He didn’t need affirmation, he knew where he stood.


    The peace seeds he sowed were ridiculously small,

    like mustard seeds when planted, invisible to all.

    But germinate they did and grow to this day,

    proving redemption through relationships is the best way.


    I’ve joined him in the work that leads not to fame,

    if I endure to the end I’ll be glad that I came,

    to enter dark places with the torch of the Spirit.

    If I first live out the Gospel, I’ll have the right to proclaim it.


    The homeboys who trust me might invite me to toke

    (I hope I don’t get buzzed on the second hand smoke),

    but I graciously decline and explain as I say,

    “Thanks dude, but I’ve found a better way.”


    This is so not the life I had planned,

    back in my Humboldt hippie days, eco-groovy and grand.

    Waging the war to preserve ancient forest,

    in hope that such beauty endure untarnished.


    But I’m in a transition I can’t figure out.

    I look back on my life and ask, “What’s this about?”

    I still dig the forest, but my values have shifted.

    My contempt for the city is now being lifted.


    Like Jonah I tried to run from my calling,

    afraid of the slums and actually falling

    in love with the broken God so passionately cherished,

    refusing to care whether or not they perished.


    So now I’ve repented, to the inner-city I’ve turned.

    Since entering its gates, this is what I have learned.

    There is actually beauty here, ‘though sublime and misunderstood.

    I’m finding hidden treasure waging peace in the hood.

    -Harlan Young, 2011

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