Homelessness—What Is the Solution?
“GIVE a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This saying illustrates the truth that simply filling an immediate physical need may be of limited value. It is even better to help people learn how to solve problems and address their own needs. Many people need to be taught life skills or even an altogether different outlook on and approach to life.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that the most effective way to help with homelessness is to teach people the best way of living. This means applying the best advice available—that provided by man’s Creator. Who is better qualified to give such counsel? His advice is helping people to avoid many of the problems that lead to homelessness. It is also helping sincere people who have the problem to overcome it. Of course, reading the Bible will not, in itself, make all the problems we face vanish. However, the Bible can help people to eliminate costly vices, to regain a measure of self-respect, and to lead a more dignified life.
Many people have lost their home as a result of substance abuse, a life of crime, financial problems, or family breakdown. The Bible gives practical counsel on all these matters. Applying such advice has already helped millions of people to change their outlook on life—and indeed change their whole personality—for the better. Application of Scriptural counsel alone, of course, may not resolve all the problems associated with homelessness. In the short term, natural disasters, ill health, widespread poverty, addiction, and the like are problems that frequently call for other kinds of assistance. While Jehovah’s Witnesses do all they can to help individuals who are suffering from the effects of such afflictions, they recognize that only mankind’s Maker can resolve those problems once and for all. Will he?
God’s Original Purpose
There is good reason to hope that homelessness will soon end. On what basis? Consider: Jehovah God provided a good home for the first human pair. God placed them in a paradise, where they had all they needed. Had they followed their Maker’s guidance, they would have extended that Paradise to all the earth. Their offspring would have enjoyed abundance and comfortable homes. Each member of the human family would have been able to rely on the love and cooperation of everyone else. That was God’s original purpose. He has not changed his mind.—Psalm 37:9-11, 29.
Furthermore, whatever God intends to be will be, without fail. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) The Bible prophesies that a time will come when everyone will have his own home and material plenty. Granted, before that is possible, all human society as we know it now will have to change. Such a change will be brought about by divine intervention in mankind’s affairs. That is what Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
Under the just rule of God’s Kingdom, obedient mankind will see the fulfillment of this heartening prophecy: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy . . . They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. . . . The work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.” (Isaiah 65:21, 22) Simply put, no one will be homeless.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are striving to provide people with the spiritual help they need right now. They desire to give others the loving attention that Jesus recommended. (Matthew 22:36-39) The same concern for others moves them to come to the aid of those who have lost their homes as a result of natural disasters. *
Realistically, the Witnesses understand that it is not possible to help everyone. Jacek, from Poland, who lives in a shelter for the homeless, acknowledges regarding the homeless: “Some are aggressive or are under the influence of drugs. Others have an aversion to religious topics, thinking that God is not interested in them. But there are those who respond favorably to God’s Word.” Jacek himself, for example, has done so. He has begun to learn more about what the Bible really teaches.
Another homeless man who reacted positively is Roman, an AIDS sufferer who until recently lived on the street. “When I arrived at the Social Services care unit, I did not know that Jehovah’s Witnesses met nearby,” he recalls. “Soon they started a conversation with me in the street and explained that the cries for help of the homeless do not go unnoticed by God. They also invited me to one of their meetings.”—Psalm 72:12, 13.
How was he affected by what he heard? “I learned that I can live forever in Paradise on earth and that I am precious in God’s eyes. Surrounded by new, caring friends, I stopped focusing on my predicament and started changing my personality. Out of love for God, I gave up smoking and in prayer made a pledge to him that I would walk the path of righteousness.”
Roman made fine spiritual progress and was soon baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. With the help of fellow believers and the authorities, he was able to move into suitable accommodations. Roman joyously exclaims: “Indescribable happiness has taken root in my heart. I have drawn close to a loving God, who restored purpose to my life. He gave me a wonderful family of brothers and sisters and also a home!”
A Future for the Homeless
Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to show empathy to all their neighbors, including the homeless. They are anxious to share Bible truths regarding a better future—truths that even now can transform lives.—John 8:32.
“That which is made crooked cannot be made straight,” says the Bible. (Ecclesiastes 1:15) Yes, despite the best intentions of volunteers and the authorities, such deep-rooted social problems as homelessness and poverty are difficult to eradicate. The Bible assures us, however, that soon, under the rule of God’s Kingdom, all obedient people will enjoy perfect living conditions.
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A refugee mother from Somalia holding a food ration card
© Trygve Bolstad/Panos Pictures
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Above all, homeless people need a hope for the future
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Under God’s Kingdom no one will be homeless