Anawim Christian Community

3733 N Williams Ave
Portland, OR 97227
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  1. 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


  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 



  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. A Letter and a Postscript


    Paloma and mommy

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Tim and Sam are people who have struggled to improve their lives. And they have succeeded.

    Tim struggled through his addiction with drugs and homelessness. In the midst of his lowest points, he was in jail and he failed in treatment programs. In the midst of this, he remained cheerful and encouraging to his friends, but that doesn’t mean that internally he wasn’t fighting with the two parts of himself—addiction and self-control.

    Tim has now been living in my house for over a year and he’s been clean and sober for almost two. He has had a full time job working for a printer for nine months. And this change is due to many reasons, but the two most important is his deep and abiding love for Jesus and his deep and abiding love for Sam and their daughter, Paloma.

    Sam struggled with severe depression and a resulting addiction to alcohol. She lost her husband, her four children, and her apartment. She and Tim met each other in the midst of this time, introduced by a homeless friend, and they fell in love. They became homeless together for a short period of time, and Sam discovered that she was pregnant with Tim’s child.

    Sam moved in with friends, and as the baby’s birth drew close, moved into my house. She is fully supported by Tim and she supports Tim. And now that Paloma is with them, no hardship, no difficulty, nothing will cause them to go back to addiction. Sam now has contacts and visits with her other children regularly, and she cares for her new baby. She works part time for Anawim Christian Community, a church supporting the homeless community in East Multnomah County.

    Why am I writing this? Because I am hoping that you will give them a chance. Yes, they have made some mistakes—perhaps a lot of mistakes—but that doesn’t change the fact that you will not meet a more compassionate, faithful couple than this one. They need a chance and they deserve one. Please be the person that gives them that chance to start a new life together.

    Steve Kimes
    Pastor of Anawim Christian Community


    255606_10150212173961267_6804069_nPost Script:

    I wrote that letter six years ago.  Tim is still working for the printer.  They now have another child together, Elijah, who was a drummer as soon as he had some control over his arms.  Paloma and Elijah are beautiful, happy, energetic kids.  After they moved out of my place, they moved into a one-bedroom tiny home.

    They stayed in that home for a year and then they moved into a three bedroom apartment, where they are now.  Sam’s daughters, April and Eryn moved in with them.  April eventually moved out and got married.  Sam and Tim sport dreads now, and go to cool hippie concerts.  They have way surpassed me in coolness.

    In the end, if a community supports a homeless family, both the community and the family wins.  It doesn’t mean everything will be perfect.  I didn’t mention a lot of issues and problems along the way.  It is support and love that makes life thrive.

    God bless you guys.  With all my love, Steve


  9. Fewer People on the Street!

    Bridge of the Gods detailEvery other year, main metropolitan areas do a “Point in Time” count of the homeless.  It always occurs near the end of January, and the idea is to physically count folks on the street, so the government knows how much to spend, to find out if certain strategies are working.

    A month ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report saying that homelessness has gone down 31 percent since 2007.  That’s quite a decrease!  Perhaps we are solving the issues!

    Before we take time to celebrate, let’s look at some facts.  First of all, in 2007, there was a jump in homelessness because of the mortgage crisis, so perhaps those numbers were chosen to make the decrease seem more dramatic.

    These numbers also don’t count the total homeless.  They only count those who are currently living without any kind of shelter.  So those in transitional houses, those staying with friends, those in motels, those in temporary shelters aren’t being counted.   In fact, the number of folks in shelters and transitional homes have increased.  And more people have moved into permanent low income homes than ever before.  So the numbers might very well reflect this.

    Also, while we are seeing a dramatic decrease of homelessness in small cities and rural areas, the large cities such as New York, Washington DC and Portland are seeing increases of homelessness. So while California as a whole has reduced their homeless issues, cities with housing prices increasing also have homelessness increasing.  For instance, San Francisco has increased their homeless numbers by 22 percent.

    This year’s count numbers are still to come in, so the final word isn’t out, but those of us in larger urban settings have a lot more work to do.

    Source: Quartz

  10. Should the Police be Involved?

    call the policeWhen we are working with homeless folks, there are times when there are… problems.  Perhaps you will see someone using drugs in the bathroom, perhaps a fight will break out, perhaps someone will be drinking on the property.  Some facilities will immediately call the police to deal with the situation.  Generally, the folks who have been around longer will pick their fights.  But which situations do we really need the police for?

    First of all, always try to deal with a situation yourself. If you know someone is using drugs on the property, ask them to leave.  If someone is drinking on the property, take the alcohol away.  Give a warning, or set up a penalty.

    In general, we don’t want to call the police.  First, because the police should have other things to do, other emergencies to handle.  We don’t want to be seen as a facility that NEEDS the police hanging around.  That ruins the reputation of our facility.  Also, if the police are called, they might think it is an emergency and deal with the issue stronger than is necessary.  And if we call the police in situations other than a dire emergency, we might lose our reputation among the houseless community.

    So when DO we call the police?  First, if a violent situation is out of our control.  If a fight breaks out, we might be able to break it up.  But if violence is out of our control, or if the leaders are the target of violence, it is time to call the police.

    I might also call the police if someone is banned from the facility or it is time to close, but they refuse to leave.  They might need an extra nudge to get them off the property.  In these cases, we might want to inform the officers that we are not looking to press charges, but only to have them taken off the property.  The police will check for warrants, but not make an arrest otherwise.

    When calling the police, I highly recommend using the non-emergency line. If we call 911, the police are prepared for the worst situation, hands on guns, because they don’t know what they are getting into.  But if we call the non-emergency line, we can explain better what the situation is, and the police won’t rush, and they’ll be calmer and ready to deal with a non-emergency situation.  Every police department has a non-emergency number, so I recommend finding out what it is, and put it on your phone.

    In general, though, calling the police should be the last resort.

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