ASSISTING THE HOMELESS IN DOWNTOWN TALLAHASSEE
By God’s grace, we have had the privilege of ministering to the homeless who live downtown with a greater frequency. As we have come to know many of these men and women by name, we have been blessed as a congregation. Along with these blessings, however, concerns can develop. For example, questions like:
• What are we doing as a church to help?
• What can I personally do to help?
• Should I give them money when asked?
We do have policies in place to help those who are in need. If someone comes to you inside the church (or immediately outside) with a request for help, we ask that you please direct them to a security volunteer (inside the Welcome Center) or pastoral staff member so we can work to see if we can meet that need. Most often we are able to help with rent or utility assistance as well as the occasional bus ticket or a few nights in a hotel. Please know that we never give cash or gift cards to those requesting financial assistance from FBCTLH. We also have and continue to develop partnerships with local Christian ministries and city officials that help us meet needs we might not otherwise be able to meet. Through these partnerships, the Lord continues to provide many avenues of relief for those who do want to get off the streets.
Here are three practical ways you can help people who are homeless or in need. First, pray for those who are in need of housing and financial assistance. The need is greater than we know and far greater than we can accommodate alone. Pray for wisdom as we seek to genuinely help those requesting financial assistance, as we don’t want to hurt when we are trying to help. This takes discernment and much prayer.
Second, unless the Holy Spirit is moving you to give cash or buy someone a meal, you do not have to give to everyone who asks for money. Furthermore, you do not need to feel guilty for saying no. There are other options to meet a person’s critical need. For example, in the past, we have put together snack packs with granola bars and a mini bottle of water as well as a gospel tract to carry with you to your car in the event that you are asked for money. You can keep that snack pack in your car and give it out as needed. In that way, you are still able to meet the immediate need of hunger and thirst which is the biblical command (Matt 25:35). If this is something your SMBS class would like to do, please reach out to Terry Delaney, email@example.com, to help your class gather the resources for this gospel opportunity.
Finally, please do not ever share your personal cell phone number or the personal cell phone number of a pastoral staff member with someone who is homeless or is visiting our church. If they are requesting a way to contact someone, please give them the church’s phone number, (850) 222-5470, or this Web site, fbctlh.org, which has ways to contact us on it. Once they contact the church, we can then help point them in the best direction to get the assistance they need.