Pastor Steve’s Full Blog Posts
-When six police officers came to my church, handcuffed and seated ten people in the parking lot and threatened them verbally. Ten more officers came, with their lieutenant, who asked me, “Are you the pastor? Does your congregation want people like this here?” I pointed at all the people they had handcuffed and said, “They ARE my congregation.” The lieutenant turned to his officers and said, “We aren’t wanted here, let’s go” and they all released the folks and left. But not before the officer who started it all screamed at my face for “enabling these criminals.”
-The time an officer came to my church, harassing someone on my property. I calmly informed him that people who threaten others aren’t allowed on the property and he would have to stop or leave. He turned on me and said, “Sanctuary, what kind of a name is that”? I said, “It means a place that is safe for people to honor God.” “You mean safe from the authorities?” “Safe from anyone who threatens their well-being.” He huffed off.
-The time a group of officers came to move someone off of our property and they handcuffed and threatened the person in question. I told them not to threaten or harm him. An officer replied to me, “If you really want to help him, you’d send him to jail.” I replied, “Jail isn’t what he needs. He needs the freedom and opportunity to choose mercy and kindness. Jail takes away all choices, not allowing for any real change to happen.”
-An officer comes to our property during a winter shelter and asks if there are any problems. “No problems,” I say, “We work things out ourselves here.” “Well, if you need any help,” he says, “Be sure to call us. We are here to help you workers, not these people,” he points to houseless folk smoking beside the church.
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Byron, a homeless Christian I know, told me, “The church is there to show God’s mercy as an opportunity. When someone isn’t ready for mercy, then God hands them over to the authorities for judgment.
If we are helping people on the margins, we need to remember that the police are for judgement, not for justice. When we call the police, we are enacting the wrath of the world upon the one we are judging, and we may very well be taking their lives in our hands.
The police are not there to protect the margins. They are there to protect the “proper” people, the church going people, the people who sound educated and of a proper class. The people of Jesus are there to support the margins. Perhaps we should let the police do their job, away from where we do ours.
A group of friends sat down in the park to have a picnic. The sun was bright, they laid down a couple blankets, they were teasing each other. They were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Someone had brought a Frisbee and they were passing it around. They had just bought some hamburgers and were using the barbecue to grill it. Everyone was having a great time.
Suddenly, the police came and told them that the dispatch had received a call complaining about them so they had to leave. When someone asked, “Why? What did we do?” The police responded, “We’ve told you before, the park isn’t for you. It’s for our citizens.”
One of the men gets bold and says, “We are citizens. We live in this neighborhood.” They are told that they don’t pay taxes, so they had to go. A woman says, “What about our food? It will be ruined if it doesn’t finish cooking.”
The police say, “That’s not our problem. You have to go. Now.” They pack up to leave.
They were homeless.
What if you couldn’t partake of every day pleasures simply because you lost your job, because you didn’t have a home. This kind of story happens to tens of thousands of people everyday. The homeless are our children, our parents, our co-workers, they go to school with our children. As a society, we need to give the homeless a place to thrive.
In 2003, Diane and I opened our home to people on the street. That wasn’t the first time we enacted this hospitality. We had folks in our two bedroom apartment with our three kids, staying in our living room for years before. And before that, we had immigrants, refugees, friends and people who just got out of prison. Bu they all stayed for a limited period of time, up to a few months, to get on their feet.
Now we were looking for a longer term solution, to keep people until they had another viable option. Sometimes this is for a few days, but sometimes many years. To belong to our community, we asked that people attended a worship service or Bible study and that they work ten hours for the community. We would provide a room, electricity, running water, a shared kitchen and what food we were able to provide.
We all worked together, helping each other, helping others. Diane and I raise our kids in the environment of community living, homeschooling them and loving to see them live with and interact some of the poorest of the poor, as well as the unique families we had with us. It provided a unique place for them to grow up.
We’ve had kids playing in the house, people quarreling, others recovering from illness, others working together on common projects. We’ve had many jokes, many songs, many discussions, many difficulties, many friendships. All gathered together to love– although some attempts were more successful than others. And some roads to love took longer than others.
I will especially remember Vickie, who always quietly served and got along with everyone.
Byron, who would be there to comfort and to passionately declare the scriptures. Sometimes too passionately.
Tim, who was recovering from a particularly hard road on the street, and who rested and then passed away in our room.
Hammer, who came to learn how to love, and took gentle leadership in difficult situations.
Tim and Samantha, whose family grew during their stay here.
The Markoya family, whose children were a joy.
Ron, who puttered around our gardens for about a decade.
Ankles, the handyman who kept things running in an innovative, but knowledgeable manner.
Styx, who was silent and gruff until you got to know him and then he was immensely loyal.
Mark and Mary Anne who married here and whose artisan ways shaped their lives.
Dion, Pam, Bryon, Uncle Jimmy, Trucker, Half Rack, Barry and so many more.
And Mike, who was here to clean up the house for opening and is here to see the house close.
Three years ago, we told all the current inhabitants that June 2018 the house would close and that us Kimes’ weren’t going to live in community any more. We are getting ready now to prepare the house for sale, and then to move on to the next direction. This house was a dream when we started Anawim in 1996, and now that dream is behind us.
The funny thing is now the Portland city council declared our overpacked dwelling and backyard legal. They want to see more homes do what we did for a decade and a half. And I encourage others to do this as well. Jesus is out there, the stranger, waiting for someone to take him in, to give him space to live. We need to get to know him and invite him into our homes. The need is greater than ever.
I suppose it depends on who you ask.
Some people consider all horseless people worthless because they are either mentally ill or addicted, because otherwise they wouldn’t be on the street. Many homeless consider themselves worthless because they have failed at the basics of living in society. They see themselves and anyone else in their community on the street failures, worthless, pointless. Others look at a person on the street as disgusting, to be treated as trash, out of their neighborhoods and only deserving to appear at soup kitchens and repenting at church.
However, there are many of us who disagree. How some look at the outcast has nothing to do with their worth. Their dirty clothes hide noble souls, jewels buffed by difficulty. They are people who are missing stability and a loving community for them to be whole people. But they still give so much.
Homeless people give to society, recycling and reusing what many throw away. They help and encourage their fellow poor, providing hope and opportunities for survival.
On a freezing night, a young woman was kicked out of her home with only shorts on and no shoes or a coat. She huddled in the snow next to a transformer, proviing the only heat she can find. My homeless friend rode by on his bike and said, “You look cold! Wait here for a few minutes.” In ten minutes, visiting three dumpsters he frequented regularly, he came back with a coat, shoes and a pair of socks. It didn’t get her out of the cold, but it helped her survive.
Homeless people are among the most generous people I know, all while struggling against the economic force of the world. No one is worthless. Homeless folks least of all.
It is frequent that houseless folks lose their ID. Wallets are stolen, misplaced, taken by officials sweeping their camp. In obtaining a new ID, there could be a number of issues: finances, proof of identification, and having an address to put on an ID.
1. Birth certificates are the main form of proof. If one doesn’t have this, they must obtain it from the county of their birth. This is easiest to get if one has an immediate family member obtain it for them. To get it otherwise, one has to have other kinds of proof, such as an affidavit from a person who knows who they are, signed before a notary public. Other kinds of proof could be military records or jail/prison records.
2. Generally a person proves their address by giving a piece of mail from an address. But what address? P.O. Boxes aren’t accepted. In most cities there are churches or non-profit organizations who will act as an address for people who live on the street.
3. Many cities have organizations that provide finances to obtain state ID. Check a local shelter or day shelter if they have any information about help in this area.
There is also a possibility that if a person is still in the system, a copy of their ID might be provided with a minimum proof, as they have a picture and signature of the individual in their system. Check with your state DMV for more information on this.