Effective Homeless Ministry

Photo by Matt Collamer

About a year ago, Fuller’s Dean of the School of Psychology and I had lunch with the senior pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Mark Brewer. Mark is a Fuller alum and a good friend of Fuller and I was delighted to meet with him and tell him more about FYI. I was so pleased this past weekend to read in a recent Christianity Today article about Imagine LA, a ministry that Mark helped found to address the root causes of homelessness, such as unemployment, domestic violence, and substance abuse.

Imagine LA unites faith, government, education, housing, and business together. The program matches homeless families with a sponsoring team of volunteers from a church, synagogue, or mosque. The team helps the family develop a budget and a two-year independent living plan, and find a permanent home. Sponsorship money helps a family rent an apartment and outfit it with household supplies and donated furniture. The team works with the family to make sure that they are receiving all the homeless and government services available to them. They also help provide the family with transportation, life skills coaching, childcare, and regular mentoring. It’s a two or three year process in most cases.

This is far more than a shallow Band-Aid. It’s deep justice, and I love how holistic the response is, as well as that it’s long-term. I know other churches/ministries who offer the same type of Kingdom response, and I hope and pray that number multiplies dramatically in the future.