Systemic change – encountering homeless people

by | Sep 27, 2017 | News, Systemic change

It’s a different kind of systemic change – encountering homeless people.

An earlier post on famvin raised the following question.

Have you ever thought of friendship as a key to systemic change in our approach to poverty?

Now there is a group of missionaries who have committed themselves to such a radical systemic change.

According to the Catholic News Agency, a Denver-based outreach program,  Christ in the City, hopes to positively impact homeless people – not just with food or shelter, but with friendship.

The organization sees one of its primary goals as getting to know homeless people on the streets.

Young adult missionaries walk the streets of Denver in teams of three. They seek to encounter the homeless people who are often ignored. Over time, as they have conversations and meet regularly with the people on the streets, friendships develop.

“The people society usually ignores are called by name, treated with authentic love, and are reminded of their innate dignity. Their posture becomes more upright, their eyes begin to shine, and their hearts are softened as missionaries treat them with the tender care Christ modeled,” the organization said in describing its mission.

Currently, Christ in the City has 24 missionaries, ages 18-27. The organization operates in Denver, but has had requests to expand in the Archdioceses of Lincoln, Neb., and Philadelphia, Pa.

[See the following simple testimony of Gabbie Ramos, a freshmen in the nursing school at Penn, about her first time encountering the homeless on the streets of Philadelphia with Christ in the City.]

Also critical to the group’s approach is formation of the missionaries and efforts to help change the way society views the poor.

We may not be able to commit to be as radical as these Denver missionaries. But what is keeping us from looking a homeless person in the eye, asking his or her name before walking further? This would certainly be a systemic change in the way many of us treat those who are homeless.

[Keep in mind the thought presented by a Brazilian pastor that the isolation of having no friends is the worst form of poverty. See video below

“If you lost everything, how long would it take you to get something to eat, find a place to stay, and a get some work? Tough situation? Yes!

But nothing compared to the isolation of having no friends. This is real poverty.”]


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