Posted by: Kerry Spencer | June 1, 2009

Kerry’s June Newsletter

June 2009

Greetings friends and family!

Word on the street is that Louisville is a good place to be homeless. Of course, no one would claim that it is easy or pleasant to be homeless. But if you happen to be homeless, Louisville is a pretty good place to be. That’s because compared to many cities there is an abundance of large shelters and organizations that provide food, clothes, shelter, etc.

Recently while working in the Day Shelter storage closet, I had a long conversation with Andre, a well-traveled homeless guy. He was telling me about Miami, Philly, and some other cities he’s lived in. He says the desperate condition of the homeless populations there and the lack of aid in those cities makes Louisville look like “paradise.” I guess some things are relative.

Yesterday, we went to throw Frisbee in a park and ran into one of our best homeless buddies, Pete. Somehow we got on the topic of food. He began listing the times and places that the homeless can get meals in town. It is actually possible to get six free meals on some days, if you’re willing to do the traveling. Thus they say that if you go hungry in Louisville, you’re just plain lazy. (This is one good reason why it’s generally not wise to give money to panhandlers who claim that they are hungry.)

The fact that Louisville has a lot of services for the homeless is a good thing . . . for the most part. The downside is that because homelessness is made more tolerable here, some folks are satisfied to accept free handouts rather than try to work for a living. This is why some who care about helping the poor have coined the phrase, “the help that hurts.” Meaning: there is a type of aid that actually worsens the condition of the recipients.

So what are we to do? As Christians, the Bible instructs us over and over to help and to give to the poor and needy. Just a few examples: “You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land” (Deut. 15:11). But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17) Jesus Himself said, “when you give to the poor . . .” (Matt. 6:2) He didn’t say “if” but “when,” showing that giving to the poor is expected.

So giving to the poor is a Christian obligation. But the “how” and “when” of the giving are not clearly prescribed. The Bible also makes a case for conditional giving. Paul puts numerous conditions on the giving to widows in 1 Timothy 5:3-10. He also give us this principle, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). So there is a need for wisdom and discernment when trying to help the poor. That’s the tricky part. Robert Lupton, an urban ministry veteran says, “It is a long journey from softhearted, one-way charity to reciprocal, interdependent relationships. The road map that shows us how to navigate our way from prideless dependency systems to dignity-enhancing systems of exchange is not yet charted.”

Thus, we at Jeff. St. are trying to find better and better ways to serve and give to the poor and needy. This is truly a difficult undertaking. Yet we must remember that we can do all things with the Lord’s help. Ultimately, our goal is not to make Louisville or Jeff. St. into “paradise,” but to show our homeless friends the paradise that is eternity with the Lord.


Our Summer HOPE Team has arrived – all NINE of them! It’s hard to understate how big of a change this will make to our lives, work, and ministry, but that’s a good thing. These new recruits will allow us to do things we’ve never been able to do before. Besides that, they’re a lot of fun. I’m very excited to see what the summer brings for us here at Jeff. St.

• Please pray that the Lord will work in and through the Summer HOPE Team as we serve and minister together.
• Please for the staff at Jeff. St.: that we will seek and follow the Lord’s guidance as to how we are to best share His love and His truth with the homeless.
• Please pray for our homeless friends to strive hard after the life the Lord has for them.

As always, I so appreciate your prayers and support. Blessings!

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