Tips On Ministering to The Homeless

  • Understand that the clothes you have on or where you sleep at night are not the things that determine your worth as a person.
  • Never think in terms of “us” and “them”.
  • Do not confuse your comfort with your safety.
  • Treat the homeless as adults (the adults, anyway). This means you do not tell them what to do with the gifts you give them, or tell them how to spend their money. You would not like it if your friend gave you $20 but told you you could not buy Oreo’s with it because you are getting fat.
  • Be patient.
  • Understand that their life is very hard and very chaotic. You will find quite a few people who will be very appreciative of your help; others will be so jaded by past experiences they are not at a place where they can feel the love you offer. Offer it anyway. In the end, love always wins.
  • Be willing to listen to what they have to say.
  • Try to give practical gifts whenever possible. It shows you understand their lives and that you are not just suffering from ‘suburban guilt’.
  • Accept their sovereignty over their own lives. They will make choices you would not have, they will spend money on things you would not have and they will disappoint you. They have that right; it is their life. Jesus never told you to love those who deserve it or to only feed the hungry who appreciate it.

The following items are almost always needed:

  • Socks
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste (get the travel sizes)
  • Black trash bags (for waterproofing)
  • Long distance phone cards (especially among Hispanic populations)
  • Toilet paper
  • Gloves and hats in the winter