My heart aches from an experience last night. I was going to prayer meeting at the church and saw a man I knew as Rod going through a box on the bench in front of the soup kitchen. I thought it may be a donation that had been left there. “No,” he said, it was a food box given to a homeless couple. He was delivering it for them. I froze. I had seen a couple sitting there a lot lately. The day before, I caught the man smoking pot and asked him to leave.

“Times are real bad right now for a lot of people,” Rod explained. “It is hard out here on the street.” He, too, was homeless but he had a bicycle he could transport their box with. “I’m just trying to do the right thing by helping.” He watched me as I fumbled for words. I was on the spot and he waited to see what I would do. I walked inside the church, allowing the couple with their dog to resume their place on the bench beneath the “no dogs” sign.

These are the type of people Jesus sought out to minister to. They need our acceptance as much as they need our hot meals and our bench to sleep on. They also need a bathroom, which is available at the gas station next door but someone has been using a convenient area behind the recycle bin. The dog left its own “presents” around the parking lot even after I previously asked the lady to clean up after him.

I joined my friends inside but my mind remained on the lady outside. She and her friend were breaking the rules. If I were in her situation, I would want my dog as a source of comfort. She never cleaned up after him, but she always looked tired and seldom spoke when spoken to. My autoimmune disorder leaves me very tired most of the time however I have a nice home to retreat to. I couldn’t imagine what her life was like. I couldn’t pray for her then ask her to leave when I knew she had nowhere to go. By the time I headed out to talk to her, three more men had joined them.

I waited for one of the women in the prayer group to go with me. We told them they could rest there but they couldn’t stay. “City Ordinance” we said. Hypocrite! That’s how I feel. I pray that I have another chance to talk with her. How I wish there was a shelter in town for the homeless!

Would you allow the homeless to camp on church property? What should I have done?

9 Comments. Leave new

Ellen Purkerson
April 25, 2013 9:55 am

That’s a hard one, Nancy. I don’t have an answer. But if you think, what would Jesus do in this situation? I can’t help but think that He would have cleaned up the dog poop Himself, and with a smile. It’s so hard to follow in His footsteps sometimes. I know that I fail to meet that mark most of the time. All I can say is to take one moment at a time, and pray that God will show you how to respond. It would be nice if there were a piece of property that could be designated for the use of homeless camping. With an outhouse, and maybe even tents available for those who don’t own them. I wonder what would be involved in setting something like that up?


Great post, Nancey. It really made me think. Ellen, that was an excellent response. I hope we as a church have a heart open enough to see past the dog poop and see each person as they are. But I’ll admit I’m not all the way there.

How will the next generation respond to this? They most likely will follow our lead. God’s still turning over our soil and planting seeds of freedom from judging others.


    Thanks, Lynn. I don’t want to judge them. I would like to get to know the lady but she just won’t talk.

Melissa Corliss
April 26, 2013 9:10 am

You might have a good insight after you hear Jade’s sermon on Sunday…I sure do after hearing her read it to me last night.. I know you will do the right thing.. Have faith.. and pray for the right path to go with the homeless…

Richard Stevens
April 26, 2013 3:09 pm

Hypocrisy is something we all have to deal with. It is a spiritual thing! To me, the answer is simple and clear. Jesus said “thou shall love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Matt 22:37-39, Mark 12: 30-31, and Luke 10: 25-28a. Love your neighbors as yourself. He also said ” to do unto others and you would want done to you.” I know the health and emotional needs of our poverty stricken citizens more than a lot of people. I also think in direct relation to the circumstances and commands from scriptures. I probable would have asked them to not participate in any illegal activities on the premises and to please help us keep it clean. This would be their way of showing love and appreciation. I think the church could and should take a very positive step to remedy the situation by placing a port a potty for both humans and pets. Their dogs are their family and for many of them their only comfort and security. They should be tolerated and respected.
To require separation is to cause emotional and mental stress and abuse. Most have no way to leave their dogs and go eat.
When I ask the question what would Jesus do? I since him saying lets use these questions and circumstances to expand our ministries and avail ourselves to a more effective and complete relationship with those God is wanting us to help him reach.
Lets pray and pray some more, for God to show us individually and collectively his complete will for this ministry.
Thank you Nancy, for your sensitive concerning the needs of our outreach family.


Thinking. … Thanks for the opportunity.



Nancey, I know how hard it is to love the sinner and hate the sin rather than just hating them both. Since “all things work together for good” it is good to see how your actions and observations have opened up many people. I agree no illegal activities on Church property, but we are starting to see alternatives.
I think Richard had a good idea for a porta-potty in the parking lot. It would require daily checks and maybe a security camera, but it would be a good service. Another possibility would be opening up the side/back area by the kitchen for animals while the owners ate at the soup kitchen; it would require someone to unlock the side gate and “monitor” the storage shed back there, but the grassy area would be easy to clean up and animals would be confined safely (if they don’t fight each other).
Ellen’s idea of a tent city has possibilities. I just don’t know where. We looked at the church before, but the facilities needed too much “updating” to make it feasible. A tent city out by the river where many homeless stay would require some type of police/enforcement/safety factor to protect the people.
We have an awesome God with ideas that take us outside ourselves. Thanks for your posts.


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