Every homeless man, every homeless woman and every homeless family has a story, some are stories of addiction and horrible decisions, most are stories of tragedy and struggle, but all have a story. Jo-Rob's story may have been one of the most interesting. He was an artist, woodcarving specifically. One day he saw a lion's head in a piece of wood on the side of the road and started carving into it. His friends thought he had lost his mind, but after a couple of days of carving, they started to see it too. Eventually, carving wood became one of his passions. While we were there, some of Jo-Rob's art was on sale at the shelter, it was pretty good, and Seren and I would have bought one if we could fit a large piece of wood on the walls of the RV. Art in general was a deep interest to him. Jo-Rob would reserve rooms at the local library and YMCA and invite other homeless folks in to participate in art workshops and allow their creative juices to flow by painting, sculpting, and reciting poems they had written at an open mic. As Jo-Rob said "the homeless need to be creative too."
As the days and weeks have passed by since I first met Jo-Rob, I have asked myself some tough questions. How many times have people passed by Jo-Rob on the streets and thought to themselves "look at that piece of trash, he's probably a alcoholic or druggie. Why doesn't he just get a job?" "Good Christians" may have passed by asking the same questions. You see, the homeless see themselves through this same lens of a distorted and unbiblical American view. Success is based on the "American dream" of having a job and collecting possessions rather than on a biblical view of liberal equality and grace. As John B. Hayes, author of sub-merge says:
"[the poor] often see any institution in mainstream society as a model of "success" and use that model to interpret Scripture. . . . Not only do the poor need to know that they are not forgotten by God, but even more, they need to know that they are affirmed by Him! They need to know that Jesus Himself identifies with them (see Matt. 25:31-46). If we do not have the courage to enable the poor to see themselves in the mirror of the Word, then they will see themselves in the mirror of the world, and that is not an uplifting picture. After looking into the world's mirror, the poor can all too easily conclude that it is the rich who are blessed, and thus the poor will do all they can to try to imitate them."Hundreds of ministries that reach out to the poor throughout the developed world have mission statements that include wording about helping these folks into permanent housing, finding jobs, and becoming contributing members of society. In my point of view, Jo-Rob is a contributing member of society, God's society.
The Lord makes some poor and others rich;
he brings some down and lifts others up.
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
and he has set the world in order.
I Samuel 2:7-8