No one should live on the street

Photo: Nick Fewings, Unsplash. Photo: Nick Fewings, Unsplash.

Every so often, organizations and businesses conduct inventory. They need to know what they’ve gained or lost. They need to understand who their competitors are and research the fallow ground to cultivate.

Followers of Christ need to take inventory too. I found myself in my home office on a Saturday evening, taking account of myself, my work and my walk with the Lord as a broker of peace.
One of my ministries for the last 20 years — assisting the homeless community — stood up so strongly it made my heartbeat rise.

Why did I feel such an emotional reaction?

The crisis of homelessness has been a burden on my spirit, especially during the pandemic.
Here in the Los Angeles area, Hollywood is home to some of the world’s most glamorous people. Yet in this city of wealth, thousands are homeless. Many more live below the poverty line or have reason to fear becoming homeless. This is a significant crisis in our city.

At Los Angeles Faith Chapel, our assignment as brokers of God’s peace has led some of us Anabaptists to a new community — people who live in shelters or tents or by the roadside.

Before COVID, we would pick up these homeless brethren from shelters and roadsides with the church van, under the leadership of my senior pastors, Grace and Chuwang Pam.

We provided a hot breakfast, a rest­room for a shower and clean clothing before the church service began.

After the service, we offered lunch, and some received counseling, prayers, a hygiene kit and a metro boarding pass for the week.

We ran transitional homes and resource centers to help people rejoin a functional and productive society.

In all of this work, we sought to fulfill 2 Corinthians 5:18, which says God has given us the ministry of reconciliation because God has “reconciled us to himself through Christ.”

This ministry presents many challenges. Some of the homeless people we have served are prone to acts of provocation, lies, disrespect and malicious behavior. If not managed well, these difficulties will discourage the vision of assisting the homeless.

In the present climate, the work of a peace broker is more challenging than ever, with much resistance to our efforts.

As Anabaptist brokers of peace, what shall we do?

First, we don’t give up. Second, we need armor. The whole armor of God.

“Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

This armor is spiritual gear that acts as a guardrail, a buffer zone, a wall of protection.
The tools that make up God’s armor, as described in Ephesians 6, have been our lifeline in ministry.

These tools have helped us navigate adverse terrain. They protect and sustain our work.
Our battleground is physical and spiritual. Being prepared to face opposition and obstacles as peacebuilders has given us a buffer.

We have overcome many obstacles by wearing the belt of truth. Truth is the Spirit of God. The truth of God’s Word enables us to respond to people’s brokenness with grace. We must tell ourselves the truth before bringing it to others.

The truth is, we don’t have the solution, but we know the solution. His name is Jesus. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

The annual homeless count, released last month, shows 66,433 people live on the streets, in shelters and in vehicles in Los Angeles County.

These are broken people, bombarded with all manner of rejection. Transformation can happen in their lives when we accept the truth of their experience and offer the truth and compassion of Jesus Christ to them.

No one should live on the street. Pray for us in this mission.

Anthonia Onye

Anthonia Onye is regional minister for Southern California for Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!