Virginia-Highland Church has launched an experiment we are calling The River. The idea is, in trying to address the many challenges of folks who live outdoors or who have no place to call home, there are not enough resources just to keep “fishing drowning people from the river.” We also must dare to go upstream and discover some of the reasons so many people come close to drowning. We need to love mercy and do justice.
This program is not an intellectual approach to “fix” the homeless “problem.” These are people—sisters and brothers—and our strategy is to make them also our friends. WE are not going to “fix” THEM. We are going to ask them to walk with us and let us walk with them. We are going to ask them to teach us, tell us their stories, share their gifts with us. Together, we are going to learn to swim.
Someone once wanted to be a disciple of Jesus, but Jesus tried to warn them off. Apparently, they either were looking for a reward or thought they had their act together. Jesus warned them by saying, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Human One has no place to lay his head.” Then as now, this was a challenging issue, one for which not all disciples are prepared. Want to avoid the subject? Well, that means avoiding the Homeless One to whom we pray.