FACES - YWAM Singapore Issue.2017 - Page 13

up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.” Many expressions of mercy – service projects, food and gift distribution and building shelters – come out of goodwill and generosity, build trust and show the love of Jesus, but are incomplete in serving the poor. It was challenging, but we learnt that authentic relationships address the hard truths of addictions, broken family relationships, the poverty mentality and broken self-confidence. Justice asks, “What is keeping you on the streets? Why are you hurting? Why are you feeling hopeless? What have you gone through? What is controlling your life?” Walking with a homeless brother or sister involves the discipline and commitment to address a deep heart wound with more than a temporary solution and superficial band-aid. It’s hard work, messy and not everyone desires to be involved, but only when we dispense with quick-fixes, can we start ministering to their broken spirits and deal with the injustices in their hearts. This was impressed upon us when we took a close, homeless friend into our YWAM home. WHEN WE DO FOR THE NEEDY WHAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF DOING FOR THEMSELVES, WE ROB THEM OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND FAIL TO EMPOWER THEM. Over the years, we have been encouraged by the overwhelming love from God’s people. Generous donors and volunteers gave groceries, toiletries, sleeping bags and blankets to the poor, and we assumed that was exactly what the homeless needed. But they rejected these gifts. They don’t have the luxury of storage space and carry their daily lives in a small backpack. Any additional weight is a hassle, and life goes on with a single bottle of shower gel for body, hair and laundry. Christmas candies and chocolates were also rejected as the homeless elderly have diabetes, bad teeth or simply don’t have a sweet tooth. Our worldview and personal experiences differ from theirs, and our well- meaning solutions clash with their means of survival. What’s worse; we tried to give them solutions without consulting them or learning about their worldview and individual struggles. He had received Jesus and was even baptised. But living with the YWAM family surfaced deep tensions and conflicts. The harsh reality of our differing attitudes from his; towards his health, finances and relationships hit home. We could provide a loving environment for him, but he needed to take responsibility for his hygiene, communication efforts and accountability to us. He had never experienced a healthy family, and we realised that his real need was Fatherhood. He needed God’s loving discipline and boundaries, and implementing this into his life was an uphill battle for our team. Addressing the deep issues in his life required commitment and it was tear-filled, but it was worth going the extra mile to bring correction and truth; to help him live the way God intended him to. When our hearts are stirred and sustainable solutions elude us, it’s easiest to give a handout. It allows us, as the giver and the poor, to feel good instantly. In a crisis where immediate relief is necessary, it is acceptable. But we need to discern between an emergency situation and chronic behaviours that require further assessment and change. Months and years of handouts breeds a dependency on us, and creates a saviour complex that deems us more capable, resourceful and powerful than they are. God has given them personal authority and responsibility over their resources and abilities. They are called to steward their own lives and we should come alongside to empower them. Isaiah 61:4 teaches us, “…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives… They shall build How then, do we start helping? Pray. Set aside time to let God speak to you. Don’t act on impulse or pure passion for a cause. Ask God to change you before you change the world. Take time to think deeply about the roots of poverty – pain, broken relationships, injustice etc. And when the situation calls for it, address the roots instead of putting a band-aid on the symptoms. Listen, understand and discern, as you spend quality time with the poor. [Photo Credit] Huien Leong www.gileadphotography.com 11