The issues of homelessness are complex.
There’s so much more to it than simply finding people and placing them in housing. To really embrace this problem takes a much larger commitment of time, patience, and love. It requires making an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of people who find themselves in poverty and homelessness and responding to those needs with a holistic approach.
As believers in Jesus, we want to help, we want to love our neighbor… but helping the homeless can be intimidating. It’s like heading out into unchartered waters. We don’t feel well equipped, the challenges are complex, each situation is unique and we certainly don’t have all the answers. We are fearful that we’re going to let someone down. We’re afraid the burden and responsibility will be too great to carry alone. These realities paralyze us and prevent us from getting involved.
It’s been said that it takes a village…
Open Table is a model and ministry strategy for helping individuals and families to move from poverty to community. Through the Open Table model, a collaborative team of 12 people will work together to solve the complex issues of re-establishing a person or family out of homelessness into stability. One of the key issues with those struggling with homelessness is that they’ve lost their network of relationships that can help them. Open Table creates a team of people who then leverage their expertise, experiences, networks and relationships to serve the person in need.
It’s the body of Christ coming together to help people in need.
Picture a large table with 13 chairs. One chair is for the individual/family we are assisting, the other 12 chairs are for people to come alongside and help. Each chair represents a different area of responsibility… for example, housing needs, finances, transportation, education, job skills, etc. Each person sitting at the table will take responsibility for their area and help the family regain their footing. Each of these twelve people will meet with the family once a week for the first four to six months and then as needed for up to a year. The 13 people at the table are working together to bear the burdens and responsibility to bring the family to long-term health and wholeness.
LBF successfully completed its first Open Table. We walked along Gina for about nine months. You can learn more about this journey here: https://vimeo.com/155050601
We’re launching our second table this summer. Stay tuned.