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homeless ministry and the struggles it brings

Last night I went with the youth group to the largest homeless shelter in ABQ. It also happens to be the only one that takes families. I can't say I've been given a favorable opinion of it since my time here, I know that there are good and bad sides to ministry, but I've heard things from my clients and many others about how rough life really is at this particular shelter.

I was a little apprehensive to go on this service trip with the kids, mainly because I was afraid of running into former clients or people who have applied to our program. But as we got out to the shelter (which is pretty much as far away as you can go and still be in the city), I was feeling a sense of peace about it all, and that I would take it all in stride.

That sense of peace changed fairly quickly. My heart sunk when I saw her. A former client and her two young sons found themselves back at the shelter we had picked them up from a year and a half ago. I was left not quite knowing what to do or say to her, and I knew that her reaction might not be pleasant towards her, so I kept my distance.

So what do we do in these situations? It was her choice to leave our program, getting as far as she could. The things that we run into as far as mental illness, drug addiction, and abuse are ones that really are hard to deal with. But honestly, how do you reach out to those who are stuck in their minds and don't see a way out. In December I asked myself about needs and whether we're meeting them, and whether we can even guage what they are. I'm not sure we could for this client. Things will likely always be this way for her because of her mental health. The kids don't stand much of a chance either.

Frankly, the systems just aren't working. I know that Jesus said you will always have the poor with you, but that doesn't stop my compassion for those who are struggling in these kinds of situations. it makes days like today a little more tough. As I'm working through our database and working on where people have ended up, it is hard. Granted, we are a 3 year old program that has only had 2 graduates and they are really recent. So success in terms of people being in great places now is tough to measure. And even though that isn't how we measure success, it is tough to input things like "shelter" or "prison" in last known residence.

So I'll keep working and striving to make things a little better on my end because that's what God has called us to do. What are you doing on yours?
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3 Comments:

That's all we can do really, isn't it? Make thing better as best we can... Good luck to you and keep up this admirable work!

By Blogger Art, at 12:33 AM  

Laura,

Where would we be without people of compassion like you?


Thank you for all that you do.

John

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:14 AM  

You know, it is very hard when you have worked with someone and you don't see any positive changes, and sometimes even steps back. But something that I've found here is that even when it doesn't seem like it, what you do is having an effect, and it may not be seen for another 10 years and it may be too late. We just have to keep on keeping on and know that God is with us and that healing and restoration can be achieved by all. The minute we start to doubt that, we can't be any help. Know that you have a fellow US-2 who struggles with the same issues...

By Blogger Sarah, at 1:42 PM  

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