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The Changing Face of Homelessness

The AGRM (Association of Gospel Rescue Missions) has recently released its 2010 Snapshot Survey of the people who are making use of member mission services. The statistics reveal a disheartening trend in American homelessness, and yet one that is to be expected given the current economic reality in the United States: "More intact families are in need of assistance for the first time."

This brings up an interesting point. Often during speaking engagements I've been asked if the homeless people Sam and I met on the streets "chose" to be there. While we did meet a few people who said something like "I don't mind being on the streets" or "I don't really want to try to get off the streets," people who said these kinds of things make up a very small minority of the men, women and children who are homeless in our country. The reality of 9% unemployment in the United States is only one indicator of a challenging economic climate that is causing thousands of people who have never been homeless before to lose their apartments and homes. Certainly none of them "choose" it.

Darryl Bartlett, President of the Holland Rescue Mission in Michigan and a man I've had the honor of meeting, speaks of what is happening at his own Mission as anecdotal evidence of the reality across the country: "People who were once supplying our food pantry are now utilizing it. We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in food boxes distributed to our community."

For many of us the holiday season is a rich and delightful time, filled with good food, time with family, and eager expectations for the coming year. Perhaps there is also a way for us to consider this Christmas what it means for us to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially those neighbors who are homeless for the very first time.

Grace and Peace.


To find out how you can help, contact your local Gospel Rescue Mission through the AGRM's "Mission Map" feature here.

Comment Author Comment Text

Member Since:


Great to see you still at it. Church benevolence ministries are getting hammered prehomeless as we try and stave off events both in the the church and the community.

Hope to read your new book. Sent a note to a couple that work with YWAM and WorldVision. They work on the global level and figured they would enjoy the book. They are the Jaggers in case you ever meet them.

Posted: 2010-12-09 13:54:54

Member Since:

Hi Mike,

I haven't read your book yet. I have only recently found out about your book and your trip. It was an amazing journey wasn't it? I have a feeling that it changed your life completely. I know it did mine.

I am working on a book of my own as well. This past year I did something similar. I didn;t sleep under the overpass but I did sleep in the front seat of a mini van for 5 months.

I live in Portland, and I knew I could no longer keep quiet about the devastation of homelessness. So on April 20, 2010, I set out on the most incredible journey of my 55 years on this earth. I walked from Canada to Mexico. During this 5 month to the day excursion, I stopped and served at 54 different homeless service providers, inteviewed over 1500 homeless people, and it changed my life.

I am home now, living in Vancouver Washington. But I don't want to be. The only reason I am home is to raise funds to continue my trip. I leave again in February of 2012. This time I will be gone for more than 4 years. You see, I decided to walk through all 50 states.

Anyway...I just wanted to say, that even though I haven't read your book, I do so appreciate what you and Sam have done. On the off chance that you want to check out my website (and believe me when I say it is nothing special. I am a former pastgry chef not a web designer so don't laugh if you do) it is change-for-life.org

take care and God bless.

Posted: 2011-04-19 08:33:11


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