The homeless need the church

Christians must step up and take care of those in need.

Lisa Quintana, Writer

If vacationing in Hawaii, do not be surprised if you see many homeless people struggling to make it in “paradise.” Hawaii declared a state of emergency recently in order to collect $1.3 million in federal aid to help find solutions to the homelessness problem — one of the largest in the country.


According to ABC News, Hawaii has an estimated 7,620 homeless people — with the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the U.S. at 465 per 100,000 citizens. This funding seeks to extend homeless shelter housing contracts through next year while a task force works toward finding families permanent housing.

The high cost of living and low wages are part of Hawaii’s problem. According to and the Treatment Advocacy Center, many have addictions or mental illnesses that prevent them from finding decent jobs. Some are in dysfunctional or abusive relationships. Some die on the streets.


In light of what we know as Christians, and given the overused question “What would Jesus do?,” it is an issue any disciple of Christ must consider. Is it the State’s responsibility? Should the Church step up and help the homeless? What is the best solution to this ever-growing problem in paradise?

Jesus said we would always have the poor with us, making a statement about the way the world really is, not the way it should be. The Bible repeatedly commands us to help the needy, and condemns those who take advantage of the poor. Deuteronomy 15:11 states God told His people in the Old Testament, “I command you to be openhanded toward … the poor and needy in your land.” Jesus told His disciples to “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” in Luke 12:33.

The Bible encourages honest industry and proper gain, and certainly does not accept sloth, waste or laziness. The biblical avoidance of these issues produced Puritan ethic of work and thrift, and a balance needs to be found between living well and giving well. For example, Deuteronomy 23:24 states that a hungry man might lawfully carry away grapes from another’s vineyard, yet not lawfully carry away any in a container — indicating a hungry man should not take more than enough to care for his present hunger.


Homelessness is a more challenging issue. A compromise could be found by joining local churches with those who are working without self-interest to find concrete solutions to the housing problem, insuring the homeless receive the help they need from public authorities. In Madison, Wis., a group of churches have done just that in a program called “The Road Home.” For a very short time, several area churches open up their doors to house homeless families. Sometimes this is all they need to get back on their feet. The church needs to open its doors, showing love like Jesus.

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