PAUL IS DEAD
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town Acts 14:19-20
*Scroll down to read the story, “Paul is Dead.”
I’ve always been bothered by homeless people. My city of Alexandria is crawling with them. They’re seemingly on every major intersection corner with their cardboard signs. Maybe it’s my rural roots, but I don’t know what to do about them.
The first lesson: those who work daily with the homeless are all in agreement: do not give the panhandlers a dime. There are other sources that can aid them.
Many of the panhandlers aren’t even homeless. There’s a crew that works the intersection of Jackson and the MacArthur overpass. They share a nearby cheap hotel room and go to work each day: begging for money.
Here’s my simple advice: don’t give to panhandlers and release yourself from all self-guilt when they stand at your car window.
That being said there are dozens, if not hundreds, of truly homeless folks in my city.
I felt led by the Lord to be involved directly with them. I wanted to make friends with some of them and learn how I could help them.
That’s when I learned about Church on the Levee. It meets Sunday afternoons at the amphitheater on the Red River. Churches provide a hot meal after the service. Before you get your plate of jambalaya, you have to sit and listen to our Pastor’s sermon. I still think that’s a pretty good tradeoff.
Our Pastor also leads a weekly sidewalk group at Tamp and Grind, a downtown coffee shop that serves as my primary writing office.
I’m still learning about homeless ministry. Here’s a synopsis of they’ve ended up “unhoused” on the streets: eviction, jail, poor finances, divorce, drugs, loss of job, loss of transportation, and a lifetime of extremely bad choices. Many are mentally ill which only compounds their situation.
However, the ones I know value your friendship more than your sympathy and money. I’ve not had one ask me for a dollar.
I’ve always wondered about Jesus’ words concerning the “least of these.”**
As Jesus-followers we are commanded to be involved with what he called the least of these. For me, it’s been to be part of Church on the Levee. Homeless ministry may not be your cup of tea, but there are plenty of the least of these around you. Some may be as close as your own street.
Here’s our story: “Paul is Dead”
Recently word spread that Paul, a faithful member of Church on the Levee, had died. Tales of Paul’s demise ranged from murder to drowning in the Red River.
The homeless gathered on the levee that Sunday were deeply touched. Many had lost a friend in Paul. Our Pastor said he felt as if he was conducting a memorial service.
The following Sunday, Pastor opened the service with an announcement:
“Many of you have heard that our friend Paul is dead . . . I am here to assure you that Paul is fine . . . and hopefully will be with us soon.”
There was a momentary lull before a grizzled man atop the levee bellowed, “He’s in lockdown down at Unit 5.”
Pastor said, “I wasn’t going to say that, but that is true.”
We’re still awaiting Paul’s return but can assure you he is not dead.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town
**I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ -Jesus in Matthew 25:40