As many Clarksvillians know, Manna Café Ministries has been working toward opening a homeless shelter (called the Manna Refuge). Over the past few months, we’ve faced several obstacles: it’s been a struggle to get the permits we need to open fulltime, and we’ve had to deal with a few individuals who are disgruntled about our proposed site. And the fact that it’s going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars to open fulltime is, of course, another huge obstacle.
But we’re up for the challenge because the homeless population in our community, as well as across the nation, is an invisible one. Most of the time, we don’t see the homeless person unless their picture is in the paper for being arrested for trespassing or some other charge, or unless they’re panhandling on the street corner—and then we want to run them out of town. I’ve said many times that homeless people are our modern-day lepers. We feel that someone should help them as long they’re living on the outskirts of town or under a bridge … as long they’re not in our own neighborhood … as long as it doesn’t involve us.
This attitude needs to change.
I’ve also said that we see countless posts and pictures about finding homes for abandoned pets. Yet few people seemed as concerned about the humans that need a place to live. I’m not saying in any way that we shouldn’t find homes for these animals—I’m just asking a question: Do we have our priorities straight? Shouldn’t we be concerned with finding humans a place to stay, too? People tell me all the time that they care about the poor and homeless, and my question is, What have you done to show you care?
Many people in Clarksville have already made great sacrifices to help the poor and homeless, and I understand that not everyone is called to this particular kind of service. That’s why God led me to start Manna Café, to stand in the gap, to give those of you who do care an avenue through which you can serve the broken and hurting by giving your time, talent, and treasure.
As I said a moment ago, the homeless are a faceless people. In order to get the word out about how much we need another shelter in the community, there needs to be a face associated with the problem. This is why, after much prayer, I’ve decided that for two weeks I’m going to live as a homeless man. I’ll have a tent somewhere in Clarksville where I’ll stay at night, and during the day I’ll be standing on various street corners, carrying a sign and wearing a T-shirt that simply say, “Do You Care? Prove It.” I’m hoping that when people see me, they’ll care enough to take action, whereas they might not if it were one of my homeless friends. I’m willing to be temporarily homeless so that we can all begin working together to help the chronically homeless.
This might seem like I’m drawing a line in the sand, and that’s because I am. We either care or we don’t. If we don’t, then we need to be honest with ourselves and those around us. But if we do, it’s time to prove it!
You might be asking, So how do I prove it? It’s simple: get involved by going to our website at mannacafeministries.com and signing the petition to support Manna Café’s efforts to get the permits we need to open the shelter. Or you can give monetarily; we need hundreds of thousands of dollars to make this happen, so no gift is too big or too small. You can get the word out within your own circle of influence to help us get the support we need. Tell your Facebook about this blog. Finally, and most importantly, you can pray and fast that we’ll get the breakthrough we need.
So here we go!
Do you care that hundreds of Clarksvillians are homeless?
Do you care that some are children?
Do you believe that we together can change things for the better?