Our Advent sermon series is Home for Christmas. This coming Sunday, Pastor Connie will preach about how Jesus found himself homeless during his time on earth.
We’ve thought a lot about the increasing problem of homelessness recently. In the last two months, more homeless people have begun to show up at the church. One couple even pitched a tent on the church lawn for two nights. Then we’ve had some break-ins. Since November 14 we’ve had the Sheriff Deputies taking reports for three different incidents, each time finding a different point of entrance. None of these break-ins resulted in serious damage, and nothing was ever taken. Apparently, people were just seeking shelter.
ABC has been involved in the Pasadena Bad Weather Shelter program since its inception in 1986. During the winter cold season, volunteers put down cots and prepare a hot meal for about a hundred people every two weeks, on a rotating schedule with other groups. This year, we considered a proposal that ABC might host a satellite site for women only, but we decided it would not work out for a variety of logistical reasons.
For the past three years, we’ve picked up surplus food from Trader Joe’s every Sunday morning and distributed it free to about 20 families, some of whom are homeless. This has put us in touch with a whole group of neighbors we hadn’t known about. A new contact has just been made through the nearby El Patron restaurant in which they have donated blankets which will now be distributed to some of the homeless folk.
It’s interesting how many members of our ABC family are involved in outreach ministries that touch homeless people. Jean Bouchebel and his son Patrick run Witness As Ministry (WAM), an organization that delivers food and other supplies to refugee families in Lebanon and Jordan (read their Christmas letter here [5mb PDF]). Debbie Unruh is Executive Director of Elizabeth House, which shelters pregnant women and helps them find affordable housing after their delivery. Laura and Tianna Van Alstine work as paid staff at the Pasadena Bad Weather Shelter.
Désirée Zamarano, whose mother Kathé is an active part of ABC, is a writer and college instructor. She has become active in trying to address the plight of refugees from Central America who are seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border. She visits and advocates for individuals incarcerated at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, mostly women and children who have no other support base. She recently sent this link to show how we can become involved on behalf of Evia, a 24-year-old Guatemalan believer.
California’s Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom has publicly stated that providing more affordable housing will be one of his top two priorities (along with Early Childhood Education). We need to make sure he comes through on this. The city of Pasadena is giving only lip-service to addressing this problem locally. They need to hear from us. Dr. Jill Shook is a national authority on the subject, and she is also a Pasadena local (lives just a few blocks from ABC) leader, holding the city accountable. Check out the information on her website.
— Pastor George Van Alstine