I embarked on a mission yesterday to help a couple of homeless persons at the request of a nearby city in Gwinnett County, and though we may have been helpful, it was an educational experience for me. I thought I understood their plight by the hundreds of people who have come through sober living facilities we help, but the two men we assisted were different.
One in his 50's the other his 60's, these guys actually enjoyed living wild and free. If they were given proper resources like food, clothing and a tent with no holes in it, they would probably choose to stay in the woods. Given that, my job was to get them in a better place, and after an initial easy go of it to get them to go with me, they both balked at having to live with other people.
Right in front of them was a clinician from the great folks at Viewpoint Health, and me, a guy willing to put it on the line to help and they balked. Though we did get one housing for a week and assistance with health and job issues by Viewpoint, the other, after we gave him some clothes and a couple meals chose to return to the woods.
When I asked him that if we helped him get a job, and a place to live would that work said to me, "I don't want the hassle of caring for a home".
Their responses won't change the fact that we will help if they ask for it in the future, but as I drove away from taking that man back to the woods I was in near tears and worn out emotionally from trying to deal with all of this. Because drugs and alcohol were not the main issue, these men would be caught in between COVID and a situation that we as a county and a country have had so much difficulty solving.
Understanding homelessness is complicated, just as complicated as the stories these men told me. But at least we have begun a dialogue and just possibly we may have established some trust that we can help. In the meanwhile I ask that you pray for these men that are on the doorstep of our communities, seemingly without a way to get in.
The only solution I know is to pray for guidance in how to serve them and for their surrender to the process of re-entry. Not an east transition, but nothing is impossible for God!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.