Made in the Image of God: Treating the Homeless as Valuable

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Once, while walking down the street with someone from our homeless community, someone drove past shouting, “you bum, get a job!”  In an instant, I felt the dagger of disparagement in my own gut.  But how did Melvin feel?  When we talked about it, he said he hears that daily.  Imagine, hearing that every day! What impact that must have on a person.

The homeless often stand out as the lowest, the loneliest and the misfits of our communities. Some have been in homelessness for weeks, even years. They have lost jobs, families, and all sense of self-respect or worth.  It’s reinforced by every shout of “get a job, you bum.”

Genesis 1:26-27 declares that God created mankind in His image and likeness.  That alone places value on every human being, whether they have a home, or a job, or they don’t. That is why one of Jericho’s main objectives is to serve the homeless and needy of our city.

So, how do we let homeless people know they have value? How can we make a difference in their lives? The short answer: Get to know them.

Develop a relationship. Consider bringing someone meals on a regular basis. Talk with him or her and find out who they are and what led to their status. Ask about their hopes and dreams. Once you develop a relationship, trust the Holy Spirit to lead about whether this might flourish into a discipleship relationship.

Be brutally honest, but lead with understanding and love. This helps build trust in the relationship. When someone senses that you authentically care about them, so much so that you might have to say difficult things to them, they begin to feel a sense of self-worth -- that their life matters. That leads to a rebirth… and change.

Recognize changes. When someone makes genuine strides in his life, even makes small positive changes – recognize it, with the appropriate accolades.  This builds more self-confidence, bestows more value, and leads to more change.

We see this regularly at Jericho’s Good Samaritan Mission. Men arrive in all sorts of brokenness. But when the staff treats them as valued people, and gets to know them – and ascribes God’s love onto them - through the power of the gospel and the dedicated work of staff, a transformation takes place.  A healing begins. Hope is resurrected and opportunities begin to be revealed. 

We all can be part of this road to restoration. This journey that Jericho Partnership allows us to go on with a person of circumstance will be a long one. It will be tiresome, with ups and downs.  But we must become like the hound of heaven who walked and chased after us.  So, let’s chase the ones who have been left behind, and really invest in the worth and value of everyone within our city.  We can help be the change catalyst in someone’s life.

My prayer is that we will serve our city like Jesus did … as Pastor J. D. Greear said, “not by foraying into the community and sprinkling blessings in neat, hermetically sealed packages, but by incarnating ourselves in their lives.  We’ll never go as far with someone else as Jesus did for us.”  - Pastor Jim Wiley, First Assembly of God, Brookfield