Saturday of Service

I haven’t posted on my blog in a long time, I know. Mainly because every moment spent on the computer and every moment spent in writing has gone into my research paper/proposal/bibliography. I’m learning some interesting things about homelessness in America and the heated debates on every aspect have my mind constantly racing; by the end of the day my brain is fried. One side argues that homelessness (in America – I’m slowly figuring out/thinking that homelessness here may be entirely different from homelessness in other, poorer countries) is almost prominently caused by mental disease and addictions while others argue it has little to do with those things and entirely has to do with hard times, financial problems, the economy etc. This is the hardest paper I’ve ever written, yet I’m enjoying it immensely. But I digress, on to the blog post: SOS.

About four years ago (4 or 5?) the Central church of Christ in Johnson City, TN held their first S.O.S. – Saturday of Service. I’ve never been involved in Central’s SOS in the past, but soon after Central started SOS, the church in Abingdon picked up the idea for one year and tried to replicate it in southwest Virginia. From that, I am slightly familiar with the idea behind it.

The idea of SOS is what I love. I’m not so sure about the method in which they go about it (but I only have a general idea, so again, I can’t be sure), however I know it is all done in love, with awesome intentions to help others. So for now, it is the thought that counts. The idea, in my mind, is all about reaching out to the community and trying to draw them into the family.

This past Tuesday night at 7:08 (the campus ministry group here at ETSU) we went and passed out fliers in neighborhoods around Johnson City inviting people to SOS, which is this Saturday. Memories of passing out fliers throughout the projects in Mobile came to mind. I’m pretty excited for this Saturday – I’m not playing any kind of significant part, I’m just going to show up and try to help in whatever way I can. They will be offering free clothes, cleaning supplies, haircuts, food, basic medical tests, etc.

Having recently read Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton, I’m starting to question the traditional, simplified charity model and wondering if we are expected to do more because we can. His model makes things so much harder and complex, being far more long-term oriented with results coming very slowly over time. The idea Lupton offers is impossible to do in one day or week; instead it takes development over years and years. To put it in the most simple terms possible (but I plan to elaborate more on his points in later posts), his idea is to stop giving things/services to people and in exchange give them ideas and methods to develop their own abilities to support themselves. Eradicate dependency. Create empowerment. Develop community.

It is a very interesting thought. I’ve just got to keep thinking.

– SB

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