When I count my blessings, having a roof over my head comes in the top 5. I never take it for granted because at a point in my childhood, we were almost homeless. Our landlord decided he wanted to demolish our home and build a block of flats instead. We got a quit notice. We started building a house someplace else but were unable to finish it before our eviction deadline. We moved into the new house literally in the middle of construction. That was an interesting experience. 🙂
We had a happy ending. Not everyone is this lucky. I’m thinking of the Internally Displaced Persons who have fled their homes and livelihoods in the North because of Boko Haram. I’m thinking of unemployed young people in Lagos who sleep under bridges, in buses, in doorways. I’m thinking of the beggars on our streets. I’m thinking of the ones we call “mad” who really are just homeless people rendered anti-social by the way we treat them.
“Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” We are God’s tools in the world, and he wants to use us to bring succour to others. He gives us ample opportunity to show his love in the world, and we cannot ignore this. On a global level, there are the Syrian refugees seeking asylum and yes, they feel so remote, so far from our current reality but again, we cannot ignore them. And then there are all the people displaced by conflicts that aren’t covered on CNN, wars that we know nothing about, natural disasters and economic factors that we are ignorant of. It seems daunting, doesn’t it?
Because the problem is pervasive, we face the temptation to be like the rich man in the parable; we no longer see the Lazarus we practically have to step over.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2)
Still, like Mother Theresa used to say, Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest to you. If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed one. I dare paraphrase and say, “If we can’t shelter 100 people, we should shelter one.” Let’s start, shall we?
- Donate money, clothes, food, blankets, toiletries to a fund for IDPs/IDP camps. Donate locally, donate internationally.
- Welcome others to your home. Make your home environment pleasing.
- Find an orphanage, homeless shelter or old people’s home in your neighbourhood. Organize a service project with your friends. (p.s. if anyone knows any of the above in the Lagos Island-VI-Ikoyi-Lekki axis, please let me know! Thanks!)
- Help an unemployed person find a job. Offer to review their CV, write a reference, call in a favour, employ them if you can!
- Consider that if you earn a living now to put a roof over your family’s heads (or you contribute in some way), you’re already living this work of mercy in a practical way. Try to see it from a spiritual point of view, and thank God that He’s given you the means to do His work.
- Someone you know somewhere is struggling to pay rent or has been evicted. How can you help out?
What else would you add?