rebelling against low expectations

How do you help the homeless?


JUDAH WRITES: At dinner today, my mom was telling us about a young woman who lives on the streets. Mom gave a sandwich to her and then saw the young woman walk off and give her sandwich to another person. Mom wasn’t sure if she gave it to him because he needed it or because she had to.

Mom said the woman normally stands there with her head down and hat out in front of her, like she is ashamed of who she is. When Mom gave her the sandwich, she looked up, smiled, and thanked my mom.

Now, I know that there are lots of people like this but this young woman really made me think, “That could be us.” It isn’t, but who knows why she’s there? It could be for any number of reasons.

My mom also said that she hates it that here in Canada people are so much richer than a third-world or developing country (where people can’t give to street people because they need that money to buy their next meal) but many still don’t help people in need. After hearing her talk so passionately about this, it really touched my heart.

My mom told us another story of a young woman who was 7 months pregnant and on the street. When someone took the time to talk to her, within 2-3 days they had found her a place to live! It’s amazing what people can do.

At the time, I thought that fundraising wouldn’t work and that I was crazy but that was BEFORE I read Do Hard Things. Now, I believe more than ever that anything is possible with and through Christ – we are world changers when we want to be.

So, I am asking for any ideas for what we could do about helping people like these two young women. I had originally thought of a fundraiser and donating the money to an organization that worked with street people. Please comment or send in any ideas you may have and if you want to help in any way, please email me at: [email protected]. Please keep this in your prayers.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

There are currently 7 Comment(s)

Have something else you’d like to discuss? Just submit your question or topic (and any elaboration you’d like to provide) using our Submit Content Page. We look forward to hearing from you.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Discussion Questions

are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected].


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Hi Judah! So I’ve actually been thinking about that same thing lately, I’m still not sure but I have Ideas. One of them was to get my church to get together and make “blessing bags” but then I thought about it, and realized there aren’t a whole lot of people living on the streets around here, I mean their normally under bridges and places that aren’t so obvious. I’ve seen people on the streets a lot in other places I’ve visited, but it’s very rare that you see that here. So I figured the best thing we could do is raise money for the homeless shelter. The Ideas I had concerning that were: We could handmake things and sell them (I knit, crochet, and sew) or any other things you can make, or donate handmade things to them, or set out a collection box at church so people can donate things that they need. There are lots of other things you can do too! My suggestion is that you get together with some friends and be creative, think and write down all of the ideas you have and get some people to help you organize it! Hope this helps!

    • Hi Faith!

      Thanks so much for you thoughts and ideas. I like the idea of giving them something that will last for a little while. Not just a one time thing. I know my mom usually has some extra Tim Hortons and McDonalds gift cards on her so she can give them that.

  • Hi Judah!! This is such a WONDERFUL idea! And I’m so glad you’re following through with it! I live in a 3rd world country where this is something my family prays about often…we see the value and necessity in giving, but we also see how giving outlandishly can hurt at times. Or, giving to one means there are 30 others who come asking for things they may or may not need…It’s something we are praying about and something we are seeking the Lord’s guidance about in regard to what needs we should and shouldn’t, can and can’t meet. This is so neat that you are seeking the Lord and helping people in your area he has called you to help! =D may the Lord bless this work you are doing…and who knows, he may go above and beyond what you are wanting to do!!! 😉

    • I’m glad you mentioned this, Megan! Giving can be a really complicated issue, especially in a 3rd world country where there are lots of people who have big needs or are willing to get a “free lunch” when it’s offered. It can be really hard to figure out when it’s wise and when it’s not, especially when we feel for the need.

    • Thank you Megan!

      I used to live in a 3rd world country too, and know what it is like to see the need.

      Thank you so sharing your experience, it is encouraging.


      • Okay, I’m confused. It says that a guy named Judah submitted this question, but your email and Disqus profile are of someone named Elizabeth…could you clear that up for me? #SorryIAmStupid lol

      • Can I ask where you lived?? Are you from Canada and just lived somewhere else…? Or are you from somewhere else and just live in Canada? If you’d rather not answer this, I totally understand! =)

        • I lived in Uganda. I am originally from Canada but spent my first to years in Uganda. then went back later for another 6 years. Uganda feels like my home because I have lived thr so long.

          • Wow! That’s so neat! I”m sure you miss it… =( I know a few people who have lived in Uganda. What was your family’s reason for living there?

          • My parents were missionaries there with an organization called ACTS. After that they started a new organization called Harvest Hands Int. Do you mind if I ask who you knew there? These is a chance we might know them!

          • I can’t remember the name of the one family my mom knows… =P (sorry!) and the other person I know is a girl named Hannah. But she only was there this past summer (and is working toward going back)….so I doubt you would know her… 😉

  • Okay, so I’m not very good at doing this but here goes. Get to know them personally if you can, two or three people at most. If they begg for a living figure out where they spend their time. Then make a habit of bringing food for both of you, and talking while you eat. Maybe take them out to lunch. Forgive me if this is a huge generalization but it’s pretty cold up there right? If so they’ll need more clothes than here. Once you know them offer to take them shopping, on you. (Though you might want to make some things off limits like beer) Ultimately, the best way to help us to help find them a job. Work gives dignity, and they’ll be able to get there lives under control again. Through all of this, keep in mind that poverty isn’t their biggest problem and be faithful to proclaim the gospel. Hope this helps!

  • Have you thought about It’s mentioned in Do Hard Things or Start Here. Then there’s always the idea of donating time, money or effort to a charity which already has relationships, knows who has a need, and has the experience to help. I like Okie Gal’s idea of forming personal relationships yourself, but perhaps you could do it through an organization. Sometimes charities like that run events for people to get involved; years ago my family helped out at a Christmas lunch for needy/homeless people.

    I know that there are many, many needy people, but often caution is wise. In many European cities, groups work together scamming with false disabilities and pathetic family pictures. In reality they’re running a business off people’s compassion.
    I would also caution against giving money, because I’ve heard testimonies of people who gave up their jobs because of their drug addictions to live on the street, and you see a lot of homeless people smoking and drinking alcohol, but giving food might allow them to save money to buy their drugs. I’m not really sure what the best option is.

    The compassion is great, but it’s hard to know what to do about the need we see.

    • Hi Heather!

      I have thought about H20 Bags….I was thinking of doing something similar but with gift cards.

      It is very hard to know what to do, at this point I am not sure what to do yet, I am putting it into God’s hands and asking him to guide me.

  • “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    That being said, nothing trumps sharing the gospel with these people – a home on earth isn’t as important as having a home ready for you in heaven. =)

  • Hey Judah!
    Check out a book called “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. It speaks beautifully on giving and living among the poor…

    And find other belivers to help & support you!

  • Hi Judah!

    I think praying for homeless people is very important. Praying for anything you are struggling with actually.

    I have also helped homeless people by going to an organization that a couple of nuns had begun. It is in a bad area but it seems like that is the best way to get to all of the homeless people. I had wrapped Christmas presents for homeless families and also loaded food on carts for people which in turn were loaded into cars.

    I don’t really know what your parents think about you being in a run down area but if they are okay with it then that could be an option. Also, you could look for soup kitchens. When I was loading food onto the carts the ladies would not allow me to go outside. So I stayed in a building.

    Hope this helps you!

    • Hi Clare!
      Thanks a lot, it helps to bring new ideas to the surface!
      Like you have I have worked through an organization as well, doing a soup kitchen! I loved doing that.

        • cool….they are a lot of work but they are worth it! Not only do the people you serve get blessed but you do too.

          • You are most welcome! I also helped at my Aunt’s church they do dinners every Sunday. It was a lot of work but I loved helping and saying a friendly word to people as I served them.

  • I think that while sharing the Gospel with homeless people and praying for them is very important. I do think that helping them with their physical needs is crucial too. I know a family friend of ours who runs a soup kitchen and an optional Bible study for the homeless families! You can definitely achieve both:)
    As Jesus commands us in James 2:15-17…
    “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

    Treat them like a human being. How can we passionately advocate for human rights when we ignore a homeless person on the street? How are we showing His love? Talk to them and love them. Offer them to go to Wendy’s or McDonalds with your family!
    Also, if you really feel up to it, December 13 (I think) is Homeless Awareness Day. Basically some kids from this high school in my city started this when 150 of them willingly slept on the streets in the bitter cold to protest against the conditions of the homeless. It’s so awesome what God is doing:)

    • Wow! I can’t imagine how the people of your city reacted to your school’s teen on the streets. It is amazing was God puts on our hearts to do!

      Thanks for your thoughts and ideas, I also have been thinking along those lines.

  • Hi Judah,

    So over the summer I was able to serve with a church in California that has a huge ministry and love for the homeless people and in fact probably around half the people in this church are still homeless or were homeless at one point. I will give you the link to there church website and you might be interested in trying to contact the pastor of the church. I am sure he would be supper excited to hear your heart for the homeless and probably will have some really good thoughts for getting started in reaching out to them. He also has some amazing testimonies, some of which I think are on the church website. Here is the link:

  • I’m also from Canada and in my city we have a lot of homeless people. It’s really crazy and sometimes scary. But what I’ve learned is that they are people. They have a story and dreams and hopes and fears just like you and me. My church is a really old church so it is located downtown. We get a lot of homeless people who just wander in especially in the winter (because Canada, eh). This isn’t like an official organization or anything to raise money but what I have found that works the best is to just talk. Let them know they are valued. That they have worth. That even though they don’t have a place to call home, they are not dirt. They are beautiful people. Some will make you cry with their stories.That simple act of love could really help them.

    • You have hit the nail on the head! Homeless people are people too! Not and lesser than us! Equals!
      Eh, it is great to hear from a fellow Canadian!

  • Our church has a food bank that’s right in the middle of a very rough area of town. I’m sure they get a lot of homeless people coming in. So one very productive way to help would be to volunteer at a food bank. 🙂
    It is very sad that Americans really don’t do all we can to remedy extreme poverty. God wants us to be blessed, but we should use our extreme blessing to assist others! Our Christian brothers and sisters living overseas have next to nothing while we have too much! It makes me mad and sad at the same time.

    • My school right now is doing a food drive which I have contributed to.
      I find it really sad that we don’t even think to use our blessings to bless someone else.
      When ever my bro says he is starving I say, “No you aren’t starving, there are millions of people out there starving. we are not starving.” It makes me sad and, like you say, mad to think about.

  • My dad is the director of a local Rescue Mission, so this is actually a subject I know a little bit about. (Ok, to be honest not much, but.. yeah.)

    If you just want to do something, a couple good places to start are:

    If you do have time, and your parents’ permission, you could help lead a devotion.. It’s not that scary and sometimes people let you pray with them. If you are one of those amazing people with musical ability, perhaps you can offer to play for a chapel service—that way you don’t even have to speak!

    One time I went down and painted a little girl’s nails. It’s one of those things I don’t think I’ll ever forget– even though the little girl probably won’t remember me.

    There are loads of things that young people can do to help shelters and food banks. From having a food drive (I’m not actually sure what having a food bank would entail. Probably food.) To going to be a food scooper. (Definition: one who scoops food. I’m not sure what the actual title is so I just made one up.)

    If you are kind of like, “Well… I’m not sure what I can do about any of that…” one thing you are totally welcome to do is pray.

    Shelter workers are always in dire need of prayer. So many times shelters are places where battles are fought for God’s kingdom and it’s a hard job, so prayer over them is appreciated.

    Also be praying for those who are addicted and who are trapped in bondage.

    A trap that i’ve found myself in is thinking I’m ‘better.’ Like, hello I don’t live in a homeless shelter and all that jazz, but the crazy thing is that the same Grace that is rescuing you would also love to save those who are homeless.

    I blogged about this a couple months ago… (*Begins the serch for a link…*) (*Eight Hours later*) (There has got to be a better way to do that.)

    Hope this helps!
    (and wow. This Is a long comment.)

  • Our Church’s Youth Ministry goes out around once a month with brown paper bags filled with food and water, as well as a note with an encouraging Bible Verse. We just put peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla, some chips, a candy bar, and a bottle of water. When we give them the bag we try to minister to them as well. It really cool to see how God is using is to change lives.

  • My family keeps brown paper bags (we call them manna bags) in the car with hand-sanitizer, socks, some peanut butter crackers, a small Bible, and a few other things to give to the people we see on the street. Also, it’s amazing seeing the difference it makes to just treat them like real human beings. If you can’t stay long and chat, look them in the eye and shake their hand.

  • Perfectly timed discussion! A group from my school do weekly evangelism here in Chicago, and this week I talked to a homeless girl named Anette. She was so gracious and respectful–and looked really young–like early twenties. A lot of the homeless people I’ve talked to have elaborate stories that they’ve rehearsed perfectly to coerce you into giving them a bit of cash, but I could tell her story was genuine. She kept saying that she felt very unsafe to be by herself begging. We were in a tunnel under the subway, and she pointed down to another guy begging, and said that one day he had come up and grabbed her in inappropriate areas. Another day a guy had come up and threatened to kidnap her when she was alone. Often, men will come up to her and sexually proposition her, saying things like “If I give you some cash, what am I gonna get out of it…?” Because of these events, the subway police had actually installed security cameras in the tunnel just for her in case something were to happen. She said I and my friend who was with me were the first girls that had sat down next to her to talk with her. I asked her if she could go to a shelter, and she said that the ones she’s stayed in took in both men and women, and she was always scared that someone was going to come into her room and do something to her. Since then I have written down the names of several different nearby shelters with phone numbers and addresses so that I can give her the info for an all-women’s shelter next time. I told her that I had actually been homeless before. My mom and I have been evicted three times, and we never slept on the streets, but we’ve slept in the back of a U-haul and were in and out of shelters. If you guys want to hear more about what it was like living in a shelter I’d be happy to share some of my experiences. She told me that it’s different for her because she has no family. Her dad walked out when she was two; her mom gave up custody of her when she was eight to her grandma; and her grandmother recently passed away. She’s going to an alternative school, but I don’t think she’s told anyone there that she was homeless. We were able to listen to her, pray with her,invite her to church, and give her a Bible and a tract with my phone number on it. However, to be straight-up honest, I realized how little I actually cared for her when I walked away. I should’ve given her a keychain mace/pepper spray that I had in my purse, or gone out and bought her a really cheap, simple cellphone for emergencies, because she did not have one (which is really rare, almost everyone I encountered in shelters were broke but still had a cellphone.) I tried to show sympathy and compassion, but I was not quick to pick up on her immediate, physical needs and offer the tangible support she needed most. Thankfully I did find out what time she is normally there, so I will go back and try to give her those items. My heart breaks for her that she has been violated by men and now has lost trust for men. I’m SO GLAD I was ever to tell her that she is priceless and cherished to God, and share with her the message of salvation by the Cross of Jesus Christ!! When I shared a Gospel outline with her, I asked her if she’d ever heard that before, and she shook her head no!

    If you guys are wanting to go into homeless ministry of some kind, I would encourage you to pray, pray, pray for compassion!! Pray for Jesus to just supernaturally enlarge your heart to love these people and enter into a bit of their hurt with them. Don’t be afraid to share the Gospel with them! They need the forgiveness and hope that only Christ offers more than all the financial and physical aid we could give them. God bless you all for having a heart for these overlooked, downtrodden people.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →