Have You Ever Been Homeless?

by Christine Sine

I have never been homeless, but still remember vividly a period in my life when I experienced some of the disorientation and destabilization that many homeless people know constantly.  Someone accidentally opened the sprinkler system in my cabin on the Mercy Ship M/V Anastasis and its entire contents were flooded in black sludge.  Most of my clothes were ruined and the stench made the cabin uninhabitable.  

I felt helpless in the face of this disaster.  For six months I moved from cabin to cabin while the carpenters slowly renovated it.  At the same time Mercy Ships’ home office moved from California to Texas and I never knew where I would be staying during my frequent visits.  At one stage I even slept on my office floor for a few nights because there was no other place available.  Having a moving object in the middle of the sea as my only stability point was hard enough at the best of times but now I felt like a homeless refugee.  My stress levels rose and I became increasingly irritable and depressed.  Fortunately I was able to purchase a home near the office in Texas.  Immediately I felt I knew where I belonged and I started to relax.  

Homelessness is not easy to cope with even for those of us who have the resources to rapidly rebuild our lives.  Imagine what is like for those who lack the financial and emotional resources to change their situation.  Irritability, anger and selfishness are not uncommon amongst people who have been displaced and lost everything.  In their attempt to regain some control over their lives refugees and displaced people often lash out at the very people who are trying to help them.  Unfortunately this can create a vicious cycle of misunderstanding, resentment and withdrawal.    

As I contemplate the plight of the millions worldwide who are homeless I am reminded that Christ too knew the uncertainty of homelessness.  As a child he fled as a refugee into Egypt with his family and as an adult he “had no place to lay his head.”  No wonder he was so sympathetic towards those who were displaced within his society.  Perhaps when he looked at the beggar sitting by the city gate he was reminded of his own uncertain childhood.  Perhaps as he reached out to embrace lepers and outcasts he was reminded of the times that he too was rejected by society.

As I read the story of the Good Samaritan I am reminded that Jesus often comes to us through the despised and rejected people of our world.  The victim lying by the roadside was despised and rejected by the religious and economic leaders who walked by on the other side, yet he was embraced compassionately by the equally despised Samaritan. 

 If we see Jesus in the unlovely faces and broken lives of those who are despised and rejected by our society, then through God’s grace we too can reach out and be enfolded in his love.  When we love those who are unlovely we experience the wonder of Christ’s compassionate embrace that willingly took upon himself the burden of every outcast who lies by the wayside despised by society yet welcomed and nursed to wholeness by the despised and rejected God of salvation.    

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padschicago March 16, 2009 - 10:06 pm

I am homeless. I think this is a life experience that all should have. People take for granted the most minimum things in life. Being homeless, you appreciate and love the heart and Christ in the volunteers who help us. Small things like a meal feed me one time, but a few kind words and compassion go with me when I leave.

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john smith April 10, 2013 - 7:25 pm

I was homeless before here’s my story, i got it in my head one day that i wanted to go to las vegas. so as i get my things in order i call my sister she was in bossier city LA at the time she worked in the air force. anyway i called her to see if i could stay the night with her before i get to las vegas. well she talks me into staying with her for 3 months so she could have some help with her daughter while her husband was over seas. well remember I just wanted to stay the night but what do you say when someone asks you that of course i said yes. but i told her that i smoke cigarettes before i even left and she said that’s cool just smoke out side.(which i did never did i smoke in her house). so i get there and i start running out of money so i find a job working for a pizza delivery company. and everything’s cool until my car dies on me. well it’s to much for me to pay and because i have no car i loss my job. so that sucks well a few weeks go by and my sister ask for me to come in the other room. at the time i was watching her kid for her, as i’m getting up to go talk to her my lighter falls out of my pocket. so we talk and we both walk in the room together and see it on the floor. it’s no where near her kid be it is on the floor. well my sister flips out and demands that i leave right then or she’ll call all her air force buddies to throw me out. I tried telling her i didn’t know it was on the floor but that didn’t matter. so now I’m in a town that i know no one i don’t have any money and have nothing but the cloths on my back. i live on the streets for 3 months before i get a call my mother saying that she has my state income tax money. but i had no address the only people i know was the same people that put my here in the first place. but i had to have that check so she mailed it to my sisters house and every day I’d wait and hide for the mail man hoping i’d get it that day. when it finally came my brother in-law had come home and had taken my check into there house and he said the only way I’d get it was if i apologized to THEM FOR WHAT I DID…….

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