Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Observing Lent – Week Three


homelessness

Originally uploaded by dream awakener

The following is the flow of the Lenten GuideA Journey into Wholeness – by Christine Sine. Today is my third entry on observing lent.

Week One: Journey into the Brokennes of Our Inner Selves
Week Two: Journey into the Brokenness of Hunger
Week Three: Journey into the Brokenness of Homelessness
Week Four: Journey into the Brokenness of Creation
Week Five: Journey into the Brokenness of God’s Family
Holy Week: Journey from Palm Sunday to the Cross

JOURNEY INTO THE BROKENNESS OF HOMELESSNESS
According to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center, an estimated 254,000 men, women and children experience homelessness in Los Angeles County during some part of the year and approximately 82,000 people are homeless on any given night. Unaccompanied youth, especially in the Hollywood area, are estimated to make up from 4,800 to 10,000 of these.

Although homeless people may be found throughout the county, the largest percentages are in South Los Angeles and Metro Los Angeles. Most are from the Los Angeles area and stay in or near the communities from which they came. About 14 to 18 percent of homeless adults in Los Angeles County are not U.S. citizens compared with 29% of adults overall. A high percentage – as high as 20 percent – are veterans. African Americans make up approximately half of the Los Angeles County homeless population – disproportionately high compared to the percentage of African Americans in the county overall (about 9 percent).  Other Facts About the Homeless Population in Los Angeles:

  • The average age is 40 – women tend to be younger.
  • 33% to 50% are female. Men make up about 75% of the single population.
  • About 42% to 77% do not receive public benefits to which they are entitled.
  • 20% to 43% are in families, typically headed by a single mother.
  • An estimated 20% are physically disabled.
  • 41% of adults were employed within last year.
  • 16% to 20% of adults are employed.
  • About 25% are mentally ill.
  • As children, 27% lived in foster care or group homes; 25% were physically or sexually abused
  • 33%-66% of single individuals have substance abuse issues.
  • 48% graduated from high school; 32% had a bachelor degree or higher (as compared to 45% and 25% for the population overall respectively). Source: LA Almanac

Sadly, Scott Ito, the director of development and communications with the Los Angeles Services Authority (LASHA) says that “the county of Los Angeles is now the homeless capital of the United States”, surpassing by far New York City’s 40,000, Chicago’s 9,600 and San Francisco’s 9,600 homeless populations. “To put it in perspective,” noted Ito, “the homeless population of Los Angeles County is larger than the entire population of the city of Santa Monica [a beach community that abuts Los Angeles]. It is truly an appalling situation.”

One of the ministries that we have come along side at different seasons of our church life here at Kairos LA is the S.A.Y. Yes Center for Youth Development which is part of the Central City Community Outreach. Approximately 300 children live in the skid row are of downtown Los Angeles, one of the most concentrated areas of homeless people in LA County. As they mention on their site, “Living in a skid row welfare hotel or homeless shelter, families struggle daily to provide for the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. In the midst of this need and broken population, children are looking for stable mentoring relationships that give them strength to survive” and that is what S.A.Y. Yes is all about.

“The S.A.Y. Yes! Center accomplishes it’s purpose through educational tutoring, nutritional meals, recreation and character development. The Center operates Monday through Thursdays, 3:00 – 7:00p.m. and holistically addresses four areas of development for children and youth: Educational, Physical, Spiritual / Emotional, and Social.” So if you live in the LA area near downtown, S.A.Y. Yes! is a great group to connect with to help with the children who are homeless on skid row.

The Los Angeles Times has a page on the issue of homelessness in America

PRAYER
I would like to close this blog entry with a prayer from Christine Sine’s Lenten guide.

God who dwelt on earth with no home to call your own,
Have mercy on all who are homeless and without shelter today.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.
God who was despised, rejected, and spat upon by those in authority,
Comfort all who are cast by the wayside and ignored today.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.
God who offers abundance and plenty where we expect scarcity,
Provide for all those who are hungry and in need of food today.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.
God who promises security and safety when we expect turmoil,
Provide for all those who have lost jobs and are forced into homelessness today.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.
God who grants us rest in face of our fears and anxieties,
Provide for all those who are anxious about finances today.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.
God who provides community for all who are alone and abandoned,
Provide for all who feel abandoned and uncared for in these troubled times.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.
God who is always in control even when nations shake and economies crumble,
Fill all who are empty and rescue those who are enslaved by debt.
God, who lives amongst us, hear our prayer.

Pause to offer your own prayers for the homeless and displaced

God, you see the unlovely in all of us, yet you still love us. You ask us to reach out with your compassion to all who are unlovely. Open our eyes so that we can see beauty in all people and practice your hospitality, particularly to those homeless and faceless ones who are usually over-looked or ignored by us and by our society.


3 Responses to Observing Lent – Week Three

  1. Pingback: What’s New At the Lenten Synchroblog « Godspace

  2. John Samuel Anderson says:

    I wonder, when Jesus told the parable about the feast, when the master told his servants, “Go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in,” who would his servants have found as readily as the homeless? Does my prayer for them let me release me from the responsibility I have to those “unwanted” people around me? Ah, that my heart would agonize over them–and that I will do whatever it is the Christ would do.

  3. jrwoodward says:

    John, thanks for your thoughts. I think if we are praying for the homeless regularly it often leads to action, if we are praying in faith.

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