City’s prayer battle reflected in moral conflicts of homeless
Threatened lawsuits in Chattanooga have put open prayers to God in the spotlight, bringing national attention to the public nature of Christianity. God wants to be publicly honored, worshiped and praised. In the town square, in the august meeting rooms of county commissions, city halls and federal congresses, the God of the scriptures demands to be thanked.
Homeless men are not exempted from this requirement. They may be poor, but they have a duty to be stewards of their talents for God’s glory and to praise him at the gates.
Poor men living along the streets and byways of Chattanooga are no less remarkable than the rich for their pride and vanity. They may look at you warily with hungry eyes and wear filthy collars and tattered pants. But sinful pride controls the hearts of many.
Homeless men somehow suppose they need make no commitments. They cannot suffer being bound, either to forgotten wives or their abandoned children. They have grown accustomed to looking out for good ole No. 1, and no other. Their time horizons are short. Thrift and providence are good, they know, but they treat them almost as evil. They live for the next opportunity for selfish pleasure — drink, an illicit drug, a cheap thrill, a free meal. Their care for themselves is often pathetic. They often suffer with diabetes or gum disease, and what we think is a guarded, covetous look in their eyes may be malnutrition, after all. So accustomed are they as fallen men to self-seeking that many have doomed themselves to begging and foul habits.
The Union Gospel Mission in Chattanooga is a ministry that testifies of Christ’s claims upon such outcasts. We don’t hide the fact that we are witnesses of Christ’s redeeming grace. We proclaim the gospel in public worship at church services on the Lord’s Day and Wednesday night. We publicly hold forth that we are Christian. We have public prayer before meals and before important events in our sanctuary.
Our task is to give these men a temporary home and Christian instruction. Clients enter a six-month Bible study and discipleship program. When that course of spiritual encouragement is done — what next? We then provide them with a time and place of transition, so that they may return to being a productive member of society.
New clients are scarce partly because of our location. Our period of wandering came to an end in our gratefully landing at the property of a former church. But we are in a part of town not traveled by transients. Pray that we can restore our calling as a church-connected gospel ministry. There’s more that we ask. Please consider writing us a check in financial support. Meeting needs. Making change. Magnifying Christ. That’s our purpose. Thank you for being a part of it.
We would be grateful for your support of Union Gospel Mission.
— JON RECTOR, director