What do you do when you see someone holding up a sign, “Will Work for Food?” Do you roll down your window and give them money? Do you pretend you didn’t see them?
Nobody likes to be confronted by the homeless – their needs often seem too overwhelming ‒ but we all want to treat them fairly and justly.
Here are some simple guidelines to equip you to truly help the homeless people you meet:
Eight Ways to Help the Homeless
- Never give cash to a homeless person
Too often, well-intended gifts are converted to drugs or alcohol ‒ even when the “hard luck” stories they tell are true. If the person is hungry, buy them a sandwich and a beverage.
- Talk to the person with respect
Taking time to talk to a homeless person in a friendly, respectful manner can give them a wonderful sense of civility and dignity. And besides being just neighborly, it gives the person a weapon to fight the isolation, depression and paranoia that many homeless people face.
- Recognize that homeless people (and their problems) are not all the same
The homeless are as diverse as the colors of a rainbow. The person you meet may be a battered woman, an addicted veteran, someone who is lacking job skills … the list goes on.
- Share God’s love whenever you can
If Jesus were walking the earth today, He would certainly spend time with the homeless. He would speak with them, heal them, and help them. Today, Jesus chooses to work through those who believe and follow Him.
- Pray for the homeless
Exposure to the elements, dirt, occasional violence, and lack of purpose all drain years from a person’s life. God can use your prayers, as well as the brutality and the futility of life on the street, to bring many of the broken to Himself.
- Take precautions for your own safety
Some of the people living on the streets are criminals and fugitives running from the law. Always be prudent while talking with street people. Stay in areas where other people can see you. Don’t take unnecessary chances.
- Encourage the homeless to get help at the Bay Area Rescue Mission
The Bay Area Rescue Mission offers food and shelter to the hungry or homeless. We offer a long-term discipleship program that deals with the root causes of homelessness. We also offer our Coupon for Care that can be given to homeless people which can then be exchanged at the Mission for a nutritious meal, warm and safe overnight lodging, and the option to join our discipleship program.
- Support the Bay Area Rescue Mission
The Bay Area Rescue Mission receives no federal, state, county or city funding. We are supported by caring individuals, churches, businesses, civic groups and foundations who see the value of sharing their resources with the less fortunate to change their lives for a brighter tomorrow. Show your support here.