• "...to bring good news to the poor... proclaim release to the captives... let the oppressed go free..."
  • (Luke 4:18-19)

    17-18 Mission Focus Homelessness

    Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
    Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58:6-8, NRSV)

    "This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.
    What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. (Isaiah 58:6-8,
    The Message)


    2017-2018 Mission Focus
    Homelessness in the United States and Puerto Rico

    On a single night in 2016, nearly half a million people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Less than 70% of those were staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or safe havens; over 30% were in unsheltered locations.

    Over 20% of people experiencing homelessness are children.

    Between 2015 and 2016, the number of people experiencing homelessness declined by 3%. However, that decline was composed entirely of people staying in sheltered locations. Homelessness increased among people staying in unsheltered locations by 2%.

    35% of the total homeless population is families with children.

    In January of 2016, nearly 40,000 veterans were homeless; and in that same month there were over 35,000 unaccompanied homeless youth.  Most of those youth were between the ages of 18 and 24, but 11% were unaccompanied children under 18.

    (Statistics from the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report does not include Puerto Rico or U.S. territories.)

    How does God call us to respond?

    The 2017-2018 mission focus of American Baptist Women's Ministries is "Homelessness in the United States and Puerto Rico." Many American Baptists were in Portland, Oregon, in July of 2017 for our AB Women's Ministries national board meetings, Women's Day and the ABCUSA Biennial Mission Summit. People experiencing homelessness were visible almost everywhere American Baptist women went that week, and it gave rise to much prayer and conversation during our times together. The national board was prayerfully led to invite all American Baptist women and girls into a deeper study of homelessness this year. Through this mission focus, may our understanding, compassion, advocacy and outreach grow.

    Resources for Further Study

    • NEW! This article is on the opioid addiction epidemic, particularly as it has an impact upon women. Note that there are few programs available in prisons to help women through rehab and equipping them to leave prison with solid plans in place for recovery.
    • AP News is running a series on the growing homelessness crisis on the West Coast, with articles highlighting homelessness in other areas of the U.S. Click here: https://www.apnews.com/tag/Homelessness. Additionally, here is a story about homelessness in Puerto Rico, especially as it has been impacted by Hurrican Maria.
    • For 30 years, Bridge of Hope has been effectively ending family homelessness in cities and towns like yours. Visit www.bridgeofhopeinc.org to find out how your community can replicate Bridge of Hope’s model and mission to engage Christian faith communities (churches, small groups, Bible studies) in ending family homelessness through neighboring relationships that demonstrate Christ’s love. Bridge of Hope’s unique approach combines professional case management services with social, emotional, and spiritual support from a group of church-based Neighboring Volunteers to help a family facing homelessness back into safe and sustainable housing, develop strength and resiliency, and build supportive neighboring relationships that buffer future crisis which will help the family to remain housed, Churches respond, Homelessness ends. Hope begins. --Bridge of Hope.
    • Recommended Reading:
    • Visit the website of the National Alliance to End Homelessness for excellent information about policy and legislation with impact upon homelessness overall, as well as for specific populations.
    • Visit the website of the National Coalition for the Homeless for fact sheets with statistics and information.
    • Check out the Family Promise Interfaith Hospitality Network to see how your congregation might be able to be involved in providing shelter and meals.
    • Read this article on the rising numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Puerto Rico.
    (AB Women's Ministries is an Amazon Affiliate. Using Amazon links above helps support our ministry with women and girls. Thank you!)

    Suggested Activities

    Do these activities for your own reflection or use them in a women's or girls' ministry setting.
    • November is National Runaway Prevention Month! Click here for information and ideas for ways your ministry groups or congregation can become part of a movement of outreach and advocacy.
    • Download and use this Bible study on Isaiah 58:6-8 for your personal reflection time, or share it with a group.
    • Consider this list of words: house, housing, home, shelter, residence, habitat, abode. Do they all mean the same thing to you, or are there differences in meaning? Try defining each word for yourself. Imagine yourself living in something called each of these things--how does it feel?
    • Draw a picture of "home." Or, if you prefer, write about your ideal home. What's in it? What does it include? Consider items and structure, as well as people and feelings.
    • Look up what legislation with impact upon homelessness or housing issues exists in your community and your state. Use your Internet search browser and type in the name of your city or state and "homeless policy" or "homeless legislation." Find out what your congressional representatives have done on these issues at www.govtrack.us.
    • Assess: Do you feel churches are doing a good job addressing the issue of homelessness in their neighborhoods, states, or the country? What are the perceived barriers to churches becoming involved? What would be the benefits of churches becoming involved?
    • Do the math. Create a mock budget that includes expenses such as the average monthly rent of an apartment in your community, food, utilities, and other standard living expenses, and income based on the average minimum wage earning potential. Consider doing one budget based on part-time work and one with full-time work. Add in average expenses for childcare, healthcare, and other items that would have impact upon a monthly budget. What can you see, once you have the numbers in front of you?
    • Type the following phrases into your internet search engine to give yourself some foundational knowledge:
      • "rural homelessness"
      • "statistics of homelessness [your city or state]
      • "definition of homelessness"
    • Use this link for a good glossary of terms: http://roofstoroots.org/glossary.
    • Click here to watch a music video about teen homelessness.


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