Stop! Don’t Feed the Homeless!
by Pastor Steve Whitaker
That’s a dramatic headline – what some would call “Clickbait”. It also might sound confusing coming from me, given I lead a ministry where feeding the homeless goes with the job.
However, not a week goes by that I don’t receive an email or enthusiastic phone call from a well-intentioned person who is excited about a “Street Feeding Ministry” they’ve started or want to start and are seeking approval from me.
By and large, I can’t approve. The truth is, we have an excessive amount of “street feeding ministry” going on in Tulsa. I understand why they do it – I’ve heard all the reasons. But the unfortunate truth is that excess feeding on the streets enables people to continue harmful lifestyles instead of making beneficial, if difficult, changes in their lives.
We all know that change can hurt. I like to say that change will not occur until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change.
That’s why street feeding is counter-productive.
The person doing the feeding may feel good about it, but in fact may be extending others’ suffering by enabling them to stay on the streets. People in the throes of addiction or needing other help can quickly adapt to Third World conditions with only a blanket, tarp or tent providing they are regularly fed.
So I’m asking anyone who reads this and is involved in street feeding to please re-think their charity. There is PLENTY of food and shelter at John 3:16 Mission and other shelters. So why are you feeding on the streets, friend? Please reconsider and pray about what is RIGHT for the homeless person on the streets, as well as what’s right for our community.
Consider the long term and not just what feels right now. Please understand, I’m not telling you not to buy a sandwich for a hungry person – that may be perfectly appropriate. I’m talking about ongoing feeding on the streets. Change can be painful – even change for the good.
So why not help the Mission to be Christ’s agent of change in the lives of the hungry and homeless of our community? I promise – thanks to faithful donors like you – there is plenty of food and shelter here at John 3:16 Mission along with programs that change lives forever!