Have you heard of George Müller? He and his wife Mary directed the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, in the 1800s. George never accepted government support, nor did he ever ask for gifts or donations. He prayed for God to provide and He always did. On one occasion, he and Mary sat all the children in the orphanage down to thank God for their meal even though they had no food to serve. When they finished praying, a local baker appeared at the door with enough bread for everyone, and a milkman gave them milk for everyone because his cart broke down in front of their house.
Lest you think that living like the Müllers is a thing of the past, allow me to introduce you to a modern-day Müller family.
Mike Davis, his wife Angela, and their two children work full-time as Knowing Me Ministries, serving the homeless in Portland, Oregon. They are loved and respected by the homeless community because of the way they listen to and love them unconditionally. Mike and Angela lead Bible studies, confront authorities who treat the homeless unfairly and illegally, and train churches and individuals in how to start homeless ministry in their home towns. They take the sick to the hospital, visit their people who are sentenced to time in jail, and help others find and keep jobs.
Mike is highly respected in the community court, where he volunteers as an advocate for homeless individuals who find themselves in trouble with the law. Mike takes them to appointments and helps them complete court assignments. His success rate is astounding – everyone of his people appear in court when required, and 87% of them complete their assignments. Before he began his work, almost none of them appeared in court and only 10% completed their assignments. Mike is often the first person they’ve had who is truly on their side. He keeps them organized (you lose track of time and place when you’re homeless, and you often lose your papers to weather or dislocation), and he drives them where they need to go.
The Davises do all of this with very few resources. Mike and Angela believe that when God tells you to do something, you obey. Asking questions and stalling because the things we think we need aren’t visible is a failure to trust God. They began full-time homeless ministry without the safety net most believe necessary, but God has provided over and over again, just as He did for George and Mary Müller.
The Davises were homeless themselves for over a year. They had to sell everything that wouldn’t fit into their little four-door sedan, even things Angela had planned to pass down to her children. But they have never once had to spend a night in their car, even though many mornings they woke up with no idea where they’d sleep that night. Being homeless gave the Davis family invaluable insight into the challenges faced by the homeless every day. It also gave them credibility with the homeless, who have rallied around them.
It hasn’t been easy. They have very few material possessions, and they are often criticized for their radical obedience. Modern affluent Christianity doesn’t know what to do with people like Mike and Angela. But the Davises are living the Jesus way, and they are making a difference. (If you’d like to learn more about Knowing Me Ministries, visit their website or Facebook page.)
If you have a heart for helping the homeless, Mike and Angela have a few suggestions. First, the homeless have needs year-round, but most people only think about them at Christmas. They receive more than they can use in December, and nothing the rest of the year. Mike and Angela recommend choosing another time of year to schedule a food or clothing drive.
Second, it’s a great idea to prepare little kits to give to panhandlers. They recommend including socks, bottles of water, protein bars, and public transit passes. Hygiene items are usually available at homeless shelters.
Third, don’t forget that the homeless are people too. They have feelings and each one has a story. While some have made poor choices, many are on the streets because of the bad economy. And as Christians, we are people of second chances. Never write someone off just because they are homeless.
Who is serving the homeless in your area, and how are they making a difference? Share your stories in the comments, or write a post and link to the blog hop below! (If you link up, be sure to include the blog hop code in your post and grab the 12 Causes graphic.)