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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Living homeless in America

Stan Guthrie, senior associate news editor of Christianity Today, has an excellent two part interview with Mike Yankoski. (Part 1 and Part 2) Mike has recently written a book, "Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America", about his experiences living as a homeless person. After college, Mike felt called by God to live on the streets as a homeless person for five months. I particularly liked what Mike had to say about what Christians should be doing to help the homeless.

I've often had conversations with friends about what to do when homeless people ask us for money on the street. I used to think that the prudent thing was to refuse money so as not to feed any alcohol or drug addiction. I felt that it better to go and buy the person a meal. Unfortunately, it often happened that I never actually had the time to go buy someone a meal.

However, my father made an interesting and true point years ago. He worked in downtown Atlanta for decades and was often approached by the homeless. He pointed out that as a Christian our responsiblity lies with doing the right thing, not with the actions of the homeless. This may be a naive view, but I would hate for my previously pragmatic ideas to keep me from acting at all.

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