BY DENZEL GAISIE
In August’s blog post, Paul Tebb eloquently stated that here at GrowTH, our ‘care and compassion is grounded in strong convictions about who God is and what he has done for us.’ This means that our work is motivated by God’s incredible love for us and therefore, we want others to know and experience this same love. How did God show us His love? We believe Jesus – God in human flesh – lived a sinless life, suffered and died in order to save us and rose 3 days later from the dead to give us true life.
This is the truth we celebrate at GrowTH, because we have been transformed by it and as a result, we want to see the lives of others transformed! The core of the work we do both in the night shelter and in GrowTH Housing is not apart from our faith, rather it is because of our faith.
Recent reports show that there is a steady decline in the visibility and practice of religion in faith-based organisations for the homeless. In such a climate where visible faith is becoming invisible, some might fairly ask, ‘Why not just focus on people’s physical needs and leave the faith sharing to the church?’ Or they may ask, ‘Why are you so concerned with wanting people to know what you believe?’ These are important and valid questions.
And to answer questions like these, let’s take a look at two of the most important values we hold dear: hope and compassion.
The message of hope for our guests and residents is hope for their lives, wellbeing, and their future. We care deeply for the material and physical needs of our guests and residents and want to see their lives changed for the better. Yet, this idea of hope goes beyond the physical hope of better finances or a place to stay; it speaks of an eternal hope that we cannot have without Jesus. This kind of hope comes from truly knowing and having a relationship with God. If we truly want to give people authentic, transforming hope, we have to understand that meeting material and physical needs can only take us so far – because there is more! We aim to give hope through the good news of Christ. Jesus said ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10). We want to place this offer of a fully abundant life before our guests and residents so they have the opportunity to encounter God. Nobody keeps wonderful, life-changing news to themselves, and surely nothing is more loving than to offer such a hope: This is why we share the Gospel.
We aim to be compassionate and loving toward those in our night shelter and housing projects. We want to show compassion by paying attention to the needs of those we come into contact with. This is because the second greatest commandment is to ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’ which means we are to care for and be concerned for others as we would our own selves. Jesus in the Bible shows this kind of compassion on those who are unwell and sick. His compassion moved him to act and attend to their physical needs, like in Matthew 14:13-14: ‘Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns’. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. So we follow Jesus in caring for people’s physical needs.
But this compassion would not reach its full potential if we didn’t share the Good News with our guests. The same Bible that shows Jesus caring for the needy and instructs us to love our neighbour also instructs us to share the Good News, because in the Good News, ultimate compassion and love can be found. Again, we follow Jesus’ example, because not only did he heal the sick, He also died so that people could have true life, not only in this life, but the life to come. Therefore, nothing we can do physically is more compassionate than sharing with someone what Jesus did for them. We take joy in sharing what he did with others so they can come into contact with his compassion! We would be remiss if we didn’t share this Good News!
At GrowTH, we welcome all people regardless of faith, ethnicity and sexual orientation, and whenever we do share our faith, we do so sensitively and respectfully, we never force anyone. We share through organic one-to-one conversations or through other means such as praying with guests, optional Bible studies or inviting them to church. We want our guests and residents to encounter a place of true hope and compassion. And we know that ultimate compassion and ultimate hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To read stories of guests’ and residents’ journeys of faith, click below to read our latest annual report.