Helping The Homeless On A Limited Budget by Travis Sharpe

One of the biggest frustrations when you have a big heart and want to help people, is a limited budget. It seems that there are endless needs and most of them take money to be met.

 

Numbers And Finance

Time and time again I have felt helpless because the answer seemed to be money…and I just didn’t have it to give.

Have you ever felt like this? If you only had the money, you could help so many people?

If so, you’re in good company because I believe everyone who has ever helped the homeless has felt that way at one point or the other. Here are my thoughts on this.

There has to be a starting point

When I first started ministering to the homeless in 1996, I had nothing. I was a young, broke Bible College student. I had a job that payed minimum wage and I rarely got 40 hours in a week.

Since I lived by myself my bills were pretty low, but by the time I payed my car payment and bought food each week, I was down to pennies. As a matter of fact, if it hadn’t been for the generosity of family and friends, I have no idea how I would have made it.

The amazing thing to me is that it was then, during my broke years, when God directed me to begin helping people who were homeless. Maybe God wanted me to understand that even when we think we have it bad, there is always someone much worse off than us.

On Fridays, when I cashed my paycheck, I would pay my bills and put back what I thought I needed for the week. Then I would go to Dollar General and buy things like socks, underwear, Toboggans, deodorant, and whatever else I thought might help the men on the streets.

Then, on Saturday, I would go visiting and would pass out gospel tracts and those items. It wasn’t much but it was a start. Those little gifts were a blessing to the men and women and they helped to break the ice especially when I met a new person.

You don’t have to have much, to accomplish much

Fast-forward five years to 2001. That’s when we started the Garden City Rescue Mission in Augusta, GA. My wife April and I had been married less than three years and I had been out of college less than two years.

We lived in a little two-bedroom rented house out in the country. I had left my job and we were right in the middle of raising our support to be full time missionaries to the homeless. At this point, we had less income than when I was working my minimum wage job!

But it was then that God used us to start the new mission. I can remember telling God that he was crazy! Why would God ask me to build a home for dozens of homeless men when I could barely pay for the rent for my little family?

The reason was simple. It was never about what I had or didn’t have. It wasn’t about what I could provide. God was going to do something great. He just needed a willing vessel.

While money can solve problems, it rarely fixes things

It didn’t take me long to learn that money was only one piece of the pie. Yes, it takes money to operate. Yes, you have to pay the bills. Trust me, I fully understand that! But I also know that money is rarely the final answer.

I have thrown money at problems only to watch the problem continue. I have paid motel bills and light bills only to find that the following week they were due again.

In other words, giving money to help people solve problems is usually a temporary thing. If the root issues are not addressed, the same need will come right back again and again.

So remember, while having enough resources is great, it is usually not the real answer to the real problem for most people you will deal with.

The best gifts are not monetary anyway

Have you ever bought your child that over-priced toy that they just had to have, only to find that they quit playing with it after a few days? Yeah, me too. I think that every year, the week after Christmas, all of us parents are reminded once again that it’s not about home much money we are able to spend.

This is one of the greatest lessons that we can all learn and it filters down through every aspect of our lives.

Our children and our families really want peace in the home and time together around the holidays. They may not know that’s what they want when they are little, but it’s what they really want. They want mommy and daddy to love each other. They want to have fun and be together.

And all of that can happen on a limited budget. It’s not about how much money we have, it’s about how much love we have.

Just like you don’t have to break the bank and go into debt for Christmas, you don’t have to do that to help people either. The best way to help the homeless is to love them and be their friend. That is something you can’t put a price tag on.

No fund-raiser will ever fix a broken heart or heal someone of depression, but love will. No amount of resources will cause someone to do right and be responsible, but a real relationship with Jesus will.

In Conclusion

So the next time you start to bang your head against the wall because you don’t have what you need, just remember, you DO have what you need.

In January, our family will fly to the Philippines. We will live there for five months and help a church start a new ministry to the little homeless children who live on the streets.

Many times I have second guessed this. The Devil will say things like “how are you going to help those kids when you don’t have enough money?” Or, “do you really think you will make a difference? What they need is real help.”

But each time he comes around with his discouragement, I remind myself that what those precious little boys and girls need the most is just someone to hold them and hug them and squeeze them real tight. The just need to be loved and told about Jesus.

In other words, they need us. They need you.

So let’s get busy with whatever the Lord has given us right now. I can assure you that whatever you have, no matter how limited you may think it is, will make a big difference.

P.S. If you want to help these kids in the Philippines too but are unable to go give the hugs yourself, why not consider a gift to help us get there? Learn how here. Thanks!
  • Jimmy

    Listened to your story on Unshackled this morning. May Gid continue to use you brother! – Jimmy