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Published on February 2nd, 2015 | by Discussion Questions

How can teens help homeless people?





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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]



  • Four times a year my church makes peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches with water and a couple other things that we put into plastic bags (including a card with a Bible verse on it, I think), then drive into the city and hand them out to homeless people in the park. This is one of the things that the teenagers at my church really participate in because it’s run by our youth leader; even if you don’t have a similar program at your church, one of the big things that homeless people deal with on a daily basis is getting their basic needs met. Providing even a PB&J can be helpful there.

  • Maybe volunteering at a homeless shelter could be a good way to help them. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind.

  • Hannah Gallagher

    I think that it really helps them to get a lot of water. So maybe giving out water bottles would be a good idea.

    • Hey Hannah, do I know you? Were you Alice Wendilkin last year? “Actors don’t say good luck, actors say break a leg.” If not, just tell me I’m being really weird. :)

      • Hannah

        Yeah, I was her in the play :)

        • Hannah

          What’s your name?

          • I was Leroy Herdman.

          • Hannah

            Oh yeah! You name’s Jason, right?

  • Zipporah

    It is really cool when teens get a chance to help those in need. My church has a ministry that provides lunches on Fridays. Along with the food, there is a room with racks of donated clothing for the homeless. I am sure that there are plenty of other ways to help the homeless, but it has been neat to be able to help the homeless in my community through this ministry.

  • Hailey Smedley

    There are a lot of churches, if not yours, that have certain days when you can help give homeless people people meals….just search for one locally. It turns out to be really fun. Also, during Christmas or other holidays my family makes things we call “Bags of Hope” where the kids decorate brown paper bags and we fill them with water bottles, food, toothbrush and toothpaste or other hygiene things and depending on the holiday, we give them stockings if it’s christmas, or you could put easter eggs in them for easter, etc. So, instead of giving them money when you see them on the streets with signs, we give them a bag

    • I’ve always wondered about what to do in that situation. I think everyone does whenever they drive past a homeless person holding a cardboard sign. Your suggestion is a great solution!

  • I personally struggle often when it comes to this situation. My heart breaks for the homeless. This part October I went to Indianapolis for the True Woman ’15 conference, and while walking from the center to our hotel we would always see homeless men on the streets. Sometimes I’d walk by and see someone from the conference sharing the gospel with one of these men, and I’d think “Man I wish I could do that. Its just a dangerous since I’m only 14 years old.” I felt really convicted after leaving Indianapolis.To this day I think God was calling me to give to these people, but I ignored it.
    When someone approaches my family asking for money, we ask them what their biggest need is, and we’d go buy that for them instead of just handing them a wad of cash. I’ve also heard of having “care packs” in the back of your car containing water bottles, hygiene products, and granola bars, to give to homeless people you see.
    Hosting food drives, donating to food drives, and sponsoring a local homeless shelter are all ways to get involved in helping the homeless, without it being hands-on.

    • Riley H.

      True Woman ’15! Several of my friends went to that. I live in the Indy area, so I really wish I would’ve found out about it sooner ’cause it sounded so cool!

      • Whoops, I actually meant ’14, not ’15, but same thing!:) yes it was awesome and it radically changed me. You’ll have to go when it happens next year! :)

        • Riley H.

          That does make more sense. I didn’t catch it though :).

    • Cassie

      Yes! Getting them the actual goods is a fantastic way to proceed. It takes the whole but-what-if-thy-use-the-money-for-drugs-or-something question out of the way. Great thoughts, Brooklyn!

      • cara d

        One of the ways we get round that is that there are some who will ask you for a certain amount of money (funnily enough its equivalent to the cost of a hit) and say that they need it to get teh bus to visit a sick relative or to buy food for a kid or whatever. When people say that, we usually say ‘would you like me to take you to the shops/get you a ticket and put you on a bus, or would you prefer cash?’ and if they say cash, they get nothing. If they are truly desperate they’ll let you take them to a cafe or a supermarket or a bus station and help them out. I’ve had abuse for refusing to give cash before but it’s a good way to make sure that they’re not going to drink it or shoot it away.

        • Cassie

          Exactly!

        • On my youth group’s mission trip last summer, we stopped in Chicago for some fun before coming home. We were challenged to find little ways to serve others throughout the day. So, at breakfast, I suggested we buy food for a homeless person. We all contributed a dollar and got enough money to buy two meals. Later, the place we had lunch at had a homeless man standing right outside. We ended up buying him lunch, giving him a gift card for another time, and praying with him. :) It was cool to see that though he didn’t have much, he had his faith

  • Cassie

    Great question! I can’t really contribute much, since the situation with the homeless is quite different in Australia than it is in the US. But the ideas that others have put up already are great! And I know there are quite a few articles on this site about teens helping the homeless, so checking those out is probably a good idea. I will add one thing, though – pray for them! Even if you can do nothing at that moment, shooting a prayer heavenwards for them is still something! Although don’t use just praying as an excuse not to help if you can.

  • I completely agree with @brooklynmorrison:disqus. I want to help the homeless, but too often it just doesn’t feel safe. My church volunteers at a homeless shelter on weekends, so that’s been a way that I’ve been able to help. I’ve also had the chance to pack backpacks filled with supplies and pass them out to homeless people. And prayer. That’s my most important tool. Whenever I see a homeless person, I pray for them.

  • Eva H.

    I agree with @Kittenese:disqus about it not feeling safe to help homeless people, especially if you know nothing about them. Honestly, I don’t think that we as teens can do much by ourselves besides volunteering at places like gleaners or a homeless shelter (which has already been mentioned). But I like the ideas that @haileysmedley:disqus and @brooklynmorrison:disqus said about asking what their greatest needs are or making bags ahead of time to give. My youth pastor actually asks homeless people out to eat, where he then shares the gospel with them. Pretty cool ideas:)

  • Haylie

    PRAY for them, love them, and be available to help them. This doesn’t imply being stupid or careless, but acting as you think Jesus would act in any given situation. This takes many forms such as volunteer work, passing out water, or food, and witnessing. I pray that God will show us clearly what He want’s us to do, and that We can show Jesus’ love to homeless and hurting people.

  • Hailey Smedley

    @Haylie:disqus I love the idea to pray for them and @brooklynmorrison:disqus it’s like we were thinking the same thing! We seriously have so much fun keeping our “bags of hope” and the little kids like handing them out the window and it feels at lot better than giving them money because you don’t know what they will do with it…Sometimes if we made a ton of bags, we will go as a family to downtown or a place where we often see a lot of homeless people and walk around the streets looking for them to hand out bags.
    On christmas eve last year, we saw a lady and two kids in a parking lot and the lady was crying and it seemed like she needed some help, so we gave them all a bag even though they didn’t look homeless. She said they had planned a trip to a place with arcade games and stuff like that, and she had been saving up to take the kids and it was closed and we ended bringing her and the kids to a family dinner because we were just headed there and it was one of the kids’ birthdays. It turned out to be a really cool experience and I’m glad we got to help them even though she wasn’t homeless. I could tell she felt God’s love and how He knows exactly where she is. God works in ways you would never guess I’m so happy I got to help be an instrument in his hands

  • tmselden

    One of the best ways to serve the homeless is to find out as much as you can at homeless centers. You can start by helping serve meals. Ask the leaders of the centers what they would suggest for helping with the most effectiveness. They have the insight of what to watch out for and what is the safest for you as a young person. I know that there are some places called “Dream Centers” two of which are in LA and NYC. I have visited the LA one with a group and they train you and show you every aspect of homelessness. Very helpful and insightful.

  • Josh A

    Can you guys see this? I’m just curious because it disappeared for a while after I posted it and now it’s back….

    • I see it. :) Well put!

      • Josh A

        Thanks….and thanks! :-)

  • One of my dreams is to help homeless people.

  • Elizabeth Marie

    Pacific Garden Mission, here in Chicago, does a fantastic job of ministering to the “homeless and hopeless”! They give tours to those who are interested in supporting or serving the mission… you get to sit in on chapel services, see the sleeping facilities, eat the food served to the homeless and lots more. They also have a radio broadcast that shares the stories of those who’s lives have been changed by GOD’s grace called “Unshackled” …I’ve sat in on a couple of broadcasts and I’ve been on the tour. It was amazing!

    My tour guide was a man who had been homeless but was now serving the LORD there at the mission. I went to the chapel service… “past and present homeless” were there. But the excitement on the faces of those homeless who had found JESUS! Those who came from horrible pasts… It was amazing to see the change in their lives! They were brand new!

  • Clare Pulley

    Hi,

    This Christmas I had done Service to help homeless people. We wrapped gifts for children from homeless families so they would have Christmas gifts and clothes. We also served food. How I got involved with this was because I had to get Service Credits for my Confirmation and it was in a pamphlet but you can ask your parents to help you find places to go. Where I live they have a Soup Kitchen in the downtown area but they also have a small organization right by my church. There are many other places but really all you have to do is research and you can find tons of things to help homeless people.

  • Gabrielle S.

    Every time I see a homeless person on the side of the road, my heart breaks. Where’s their family? What’s their name? Why are they here? Just a couple weeks ago, my mom and I saw a man and his pregnant wife on the side of the freeway asking for money to rent a motel room, and I was on the edge of tears the rest of the day. (Their names were Jeff and Brianna, please keep them and their child in your prayers.)

    Like others have said, (do this with your parents or at least one adult with you :P) you could direct them the nearest homeless shelter, give them a gift card to a grocery store, go grocery shopping for them, etc.

    And of course, sharing the gospel and praying are the most important things you can do to help out.

  • Yeah. I find that it is best to test the homeless who are on the side of the road.

    There is a Christian homeless shelter called “Lighthouse” in my city. It’s an amazing system. It feeds them, gives them shelter, helps them come up with a plan for life, etc. They also have rules:
    No smoking.
    No drinking alcohol
    All residents have to go to the church services when they are scheduled.

    Now, for three days, they can stay for free with no questions asked. But after that, the rules apply.

    So, to test the homeless here, we ask about lighthouse. If they say they hate it, or something similar, then they’re probably not actually trying to get better, but just use drugs and alcohol.

    Also, if you offer them food instead of money, they will oftentimes say no, again because they want to buy other things. But if they accept it, they probably do actually want food.

    So, in the end, it’s rarely a good idea to give the homeless money. The best thing for them is a Christian homeless shelter, food, a restaurant gift card, water, coffee on a cold day, etc.

    But I would caution against giving them money. Researched has shown that begging at the intersections, they actually make roughly $200 a day (somewhere around that. I believe it was more). So don’t be too quick to fall for the cons, but don’t be blind to those who are truly in need either.

    God bless you!
    – Trent

    • Garrett Swearingen

      I do agree with what you’re saying about not giving money but I feel like making homeless people go to church seems a bit heavy handed.

      • May I ask why?

        In addition, would you be willing to let us know how you believe the situation should be handled?

        • Garrett Swearingen

          Well I guess it seems to me that it’s forcing their faith onto potentially non religious people or people of other faiths.

          For the most part I think that they handle the situation pretty well but I think that they should remove the rule about going to the church services, they can still encourage them but it should not be mandatory and just show Jesus through their actions and through caring for the homeless unconditionally.

          • I hear you bro, but I believe that’s not the right way to think about it.

            You see, the people at lighthouse give up their time and energy to help the homeless every day. But physically helping them can only help so much.

            So, they present spiritual help to them in the services, which is much more useful.

            In addition, it isn’t forcing anyone to convert to Christianity. If they don’t want to become Christians, they don’t have to. But the fact remains, in order to get free food, water, and shelter, they have to go to church and search for a job if they’re over 18 (I think that’s the age). What this does is, it weeds out those who do not really want to get better, but just want money for the next cigarette.

            So, I hear you about how it could come across as ‘heavy handed’, but I honestly don’t think it really is.

          • Garrett Swearingen

            Ok well yeah I think I understand what you’re saying now and I agree

          • Awesome, bro!

            P.S. Hope to see you around commenting more often! :)

  • Our family makes baggies with a water bottle, snack, gospel booklet and other small things to give them. We put Bible verse on the bags and try to bless the homeless with not just food and water but the joy of Jesus!

    Yes, test the homeless on the side of the road but have compassion and be quick to help instead of being quick to be suspicious. Once a man asked my dad for money to buy kerosene to heat his home, my dad offered to meet him at a gas station and buy him some kerosene after we ran our errands. The guy never showed up. There are scandals out there but we also know of two or three people who we know are homeless. We see them around town and have done things to help them in the past.

    Follow Jesus’ example and have compassion. Remember His words…. Blessed are those who are merciful for they shall receive mercy.

  • Beau Cornerstone

    I used to live in a mining community in Western Australia where there was an acute shortage of accommodation – and a number of families lived in modified sea containers, because they were readily available, easy to convert into comfortable accommodation and the homes could be relocated when their owners wanted to leave town.

    Likewise in Amsterdam a few years ago, there was a shortage of student accommodation so the university constructed a high rise apartment complex entirely of sea containers as a temporary solution. The apartment complex itself was built on a disused carpark – and supplied accommodation for 5000 students.

    One forty foot sea container can be fitted out as a temporary home for up to 8 people – and it can be placed in a park where the homeless normally sleep anyway. Find a disused carpark and you might be able to help dozens of homeless people survive winter.

    As a teenager you might not be able to cut through the council red tape to get a sea container ‘homeless shelter’ up and running – you might have to leave that to someone with wrinkles. And it’s okay to be cautious and leave serving soup to someone with grey hair. But you can certainly be involved in other ways – you can work alongside a tradie and help convert a container into living quarters, or collect donations of mattresses and blankets, or make soup behind the scenes…

    If you think the sea container solution might work for the homeless in your community visit http://beaucornerstone.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/sea-container-architecture-affordable.html to sea how other people have done it.

  • Paige

    Play to your strengths. God gave you gifts and talents for a reason, so look for opportunities to use them to help the homeless. For example, I love working with kids. So, when I felt like God was telling me to help those less fortunate than me a few months ago, I looked for opportunities at our local homeless shelter to help with children. Now I volunteer once a week helping watch the homeless children while there moms go to chapel. Start with what you’re good at and move from there.

  • Renee

    It’s strange but to tell the truth there are NO
    homeless people in New Zealand.

    There was once a man who never accepted help and
    he lived on door steps with no clothes but a single thick blanket and when he
    died it was on the news and it created a huge stir.
    People protesting that the government didn’t look after the Poor well enough but
    in New Zealand NO ONE is truly poor, everyone has a house, food and warm clothes.
    Hundreds of people put flowers on a certain door step
    when they heard that The Blanket Man had died
    #The Blanket Man#

    If there where homeless in NZ I would help them.
    But instead We support six African children.

    YSIC
    Renee

  • Kasey Ammons

    So many times me and my mom would pass a homeless person, as we went down the road and wanted to help them , but didn’t feel right giving them money. So’ we made gallon zip blocks full with wash cloths, tooth brushes, peppermints, canned meat, gospel tracks and various items. That way we can give them something and with the gospel track the can know why we are giving it to them.

    • Joy Swen

      Great Idea. I did something very similar. (See above post.)

  • Joy Swen

    Last Christmas time I came up with the Idea to do a small Hygiene drive for the homeless. I did odd jobs for a few months then went out and bought bucket loads of hygiene supplies. I made small hygiene kits in quart-sized plastic bags. In every one I put a hand knit washcloth and a Gospel Tract. Then I took them to the homeless shelter and they said they’d give them out to men and women in the area. It wasn’t much, 25 kits, but I pray that God used those kits for His perfect plan.
    It’s just an idea but it’s something simple you can try that will make a world of difference in a homeless person’s life.

  • Nicholas Moser

    there are many ways to do this. you can volunteer at a homeless shelter, do food drives, make some bags that have food, water, and a little Bible track… or anything of this sort. my family and I helped a t a homeless shelter a few weeks ago. The people came in and we gave them food, and sang some songs and then gave a devotion for them to hear. We could tell they really felt loved and honored by us doing this. What you do doesn’t have to be big. You can simply tell them Jesus loves them, give them a piece of fruit as you drive by an intersection, or anything like this.

    • mimeforJesus

      Hey Nicholas, welcome!
      Random question: are you related to a Faith or a Tristan?

  • seabass

    it depends on where you are and what you want to do

  • Choclate Chip

    Hi everyone, i feel that god is calling me to start a ministry to help the homeless.
    I want teens to be involved in every step of the way, from organizing fundraisers to actually sitting down and talking to these homeless people. I also want to let them live as a homeless person for a day (by not washing hands, sleeping outside,etc.)
    But i dont have money (i am a freshman in High School)and I dont know how to start it. (I want to make backpacks with neccesties and food while also giving them hope for life- Jesus. If any of you have suggestions on how to start that would be a great help! Thanks so much!
    God Bless!

    • MimeforJesus

      Hey there Chocolate Chip!

      It sounds like this would be a good thing to send in to [email protected] so they can publish it as a project, which some of us teens would pitch in and help with. You can get more info here — http://therebelution.com/submit-content/#.VamspenbJes http://therebelution.com/submit-content/#projects
      I haven’t ever done anything like that, so I’m afraid I can’t help you much… If you don’t have the Harris’ second book, Start Here , I highly recommend it; it has more practical, hands-on advice for doing hard things like this :)
      ~MimeforJesus

      • Choclate Chip

        Thanks so much!!

        • MimeforJesus

          You’re welcome! Umm, okay, let me see how much I can help you. I’ve never submitted a project like this, but I’ve done similar things. So first, you’d need to figure out what exactly you’re doing. None of us can really help you in that. When you’ve figured out some specifics (who, what, when, where, why, and how are good places to start), then you can write up a description of what you want to do, and how people can get involved. Then copy-and-paste your writeup of your project, into an email which you send to [email protected]. Did this help?
          I’m sorry for not responding earlier, I’m pretty busy right now and I couldn’t answer until now. :(
          I’m happy to help in any way I can! Any other questions, or ideas, or if you just want to talk about it, just answer and I’ll do my level best to respond sooner this time. 😉

          • Choclate Chip

            Sweet! OK gotta get started! Only 2 weeks of summer left!!

          • MimeforJesus

            Okay, great! Anything else I can help you with?

          • Choclate Chip

            Yes, if you could proofread my submission when I’m done with it that would be a great help! Thanks!:)

          • MimeforJesus

            I would be happy to! Umm, you’ll need to put the file in a comment, you know how to do that?

          • Choclate Chip

            Yes,

          • MimeforJesus

            Great. :) I’m looking forward to it!

          • MimeforJesus

            Hey, we are on an old thread that practically nobody sees anymore, so people won’t mind too much if we get off topic. So, want to get to know each other a little? I’ll start… I’m homeschooled, heading into my junior year of high school. I live in the US, on the East coast… I’ve been a Rebelutionary for a couple of years now, I kinda joined this online community in December. Umm… I’m not coming up with much more to describe myself.

          • Choclate Chip

            So I’m a secret angel in disguise…. I live in California… the awesome state!! where it can get very hot, especially in the summer. If you ever visit expect to be sweating!!
            No offense, but it must be boring to be homeschooled!

          • MimeforJesus

            Cool! I lived in California until I was about one year old!
            Meh, I like it but it’s not for everyone I guess. I mean, I have friends and stuff I do. This year I have a job, a couple of AP classes, martial arts, choir, volunteering at a nursing home, and… some other things I’m not thinking of at the moment. (Its late at night for me.) My life might be a little more academics focused right now, but that’s because it’s my hard thing that I’m doing, getting good grades so I don’t have to go into debt to attend college. Getting ready to study nursing so I can go into the mission field as a nurse. :)
            So I’m a girl. Can you say if you’re a girl or a guy? If not I totally understand!

          • Choclate Chip

            WHAT?!?! I thought you were a guy!! BTW, I’m am girl… I don’t think that any guys would call themselves choclate chip…:)

          • MimeforJesus

            A lot of people strongly think that I’m either a guy or a girl. Idk why, I must show characteristics from both when I talk or something. Girls think I’m a guy, guys think I’m a girl. Weird…
            Okay, I guessed you’re a girl, for that very reason, but I wasn’t sure. Guys can be really into food…

          • Choclate Chip

            Ok well, Hey GIRL!!
            So listen, i was reading some articles about homelessness and stuff, and i need your advice. One of the main reasons the article said that teens become homeless is that their beliefs dont go with their parents. (For example a teen from a Christain Family becomes Muslim.)Also the article said that a lot of lesbian/ gay teens are also homeless.
            And I was wondering, if I do this ministry, do i serve these people and show them Christain faith? Or do I just go past them and not help them because I dont believe what they believe?
            I think you have heard of the expression “hate the sin not the sinner.”
            Does this apply?
            Please help me and give me your advice!

          • Danny

            If you don’t mind me jumping in, I’d like to voice an opinion, but If not, just let me know.

          • Choclate Chip

            Sure go ahead! I need as much help as i can get!

          • Legolas

            I would say that your job is to help them out of their present situation. If such is the case, you simply cannot endorse the things they stand for. That said, you are an ambassador for Christ. I would say just what @mimeforjesus:disqus said: they are still people who need help.

          • Choclate Chip

            Thanks @Legolas

          • MimeforJesus

            Well, I’ve kinda got a little, teeny, tiny bit of experience here, and a whole lot of opinion. So don’t take what I say as truth. :) But I think that what matters is, these people — Muslim, gay, Mormon, Christian, Hindu — are just that: people. People who need help, regardless of what they believe. Especially if your goal is to lead people to Christ through this, the best way to show God’s love is to help people regardless of what they believe, and let them see Christ in you. :) So that’s my thoughts.

          • Choclate Chip

            Thanks :)@MimeforJesus

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