Homeless Ministry

by Kevin Au

Though we all have our struggles, many of which we feel are very pressing, very few of us, if any, have ever experienced the anxiety of knowing there is no soft bed or warm home waiting for you at the end of the day, or wondering what kind stranger will provide your next meal, or how you can possibly get throughout the next day without relying on the influence of alcohol or substances. Most of us cannot relate with these struggles. For those who go out to the Hillcrest ministry, these struggles and the people who face them are not simply statistics, nameless unfortunates only read about in the paper, or people who are far removed from normal everyday life in San Diego. On Tuesday nights, suddenly the term “homeless” has a face, a personality, a story, and most importantly, an eternal soul attached to it.

Every Tuesday night, a group of LBCers, together with some people from Chinese Evengelical Church and Harvest, meet together for prayer, then head over to the streets of Hillcrest, to care for the physical and spiritual needs of the homeless there.

When asked to describe the ministry, there is a consensus that it is a ministry centered on the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ in truth and in love. There is an understanding that the greatest need of the people in Hillcrest is a saving knowledge of Christ, but there is also the sobering realization that the physical circumstances around many of the homeless and the results of those circumstances have made it particularly difficult to embrace faith and life in Christ. So that these things might become less of a hindrance, meeting physical needs by passing out care packages and blankets, buying them dinner, or getting them connected with shelters and drug recovery programs are common practices.

The ministry has its share of discouragement. Many have found that even among those who can coherently understand the gospel, there are few who are teachable and willing to repent and change their way of thinking and their way of life. Inability to understand or even follow a conversation and prideful stubbornness seem to be the primary obstacles in seeing more people follow Christ on the streets.

“I’ve had mixed experiences,” says a regular attendee. “I’ve encountered some people who were intelligent, willing to listen, and kind-hearted. I’ve encountered others who were hostile, and really had to be left alone. I’ve encountered others who were mentally or physically impaired, as well as those who struggled with addictions.”

Despite the discouragement and what many might consider limited success, the group continually strives to be witness of Christ in Hillcrest every week, seeing benefits, even in their own spiritual walks.

“I’ve learned the value of the Gospel in my own life,” says one person. “Just by sharing, God has taught me how much more precious the Gospel is.”

Another one shares “I often find myself re-evaluating my own sin through these experiences, though it may not be as evident as in the homeless that we see have addictions and more blatant sin, it is easy to become Pharisee-like and become jaded by pride, and to keep this in mind.”

Another attendee adds to this sentiment, “We are always reminded that we were no better off than most of the people we talk to. We were just as enslaved to the power of sin. That makes the gospel seem much more real to myself, even in the midst of sharing it.”

The streets of Hillcrest are a dark place. But through this ministry and its effort to be a light in the community, some have come to know Christ, some have thrown off encumbering sins, and many have been given a supporting hand to stand under the consequences of past sins and personal circumstances. Regardless of all the discouragement that comes, eyes have been directed towards Christ, for the homeless, as well as those who serve in the ministry.

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About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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