“Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel: for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds and murder follows murder.”
Though this reads like it might have come straight from today’s news, it’s actually from Hosea 4:1-2 which was written back in the 700 hundred BC era. The author wrote to his suffering people during a time of war with Assyria.
Lack of faithfulness and justice is hardly a new pheromone. However, just as there have always been wars and suffering, there have also always been people who respond to the suffering in the most creative ways.
I’ve recently started volunteering for a small Houston agency that is doing just that. Westside Homeless Partnership helps thirty families at a time stabilize their family income, thus keeping children in school and improving the future for the entire family. Executive Director Susan Bolling explains how WHP empowers families through a nine-month program. For twenty years the agency has worked with area churches, foundations, and hundreds of individuals to assist families facing eviction from inability to keep current on their rent. When a family is evicted it often means the children drop out of school for a period of time or have to start over again in a new school.
The agency helps families by first paying their overdue rent and utilities. Then they work with each family through a comprehensive training program that includes learning the basics of budgeting and saving for emergencies. The goal is for each family to create a self-sufficiency plan.
Bolling reports that a typical family sees their income increase three-fold by the end of the program. Meanwhile, nearly all the children of these families stay in their same schools. Four out of every five families in the program complete the program.
It is estimated one in every four Houston area children lives in poverty conditions. It’s hard to learn when you don’t know if you’ll eat tomorrow. A third of those who are homeless ended up in that situation because they lost a job. It’s hard to get and keep a decent job without a decent education.
We are bombarded with bad news. However, there are good people working together to make a positive difference in their communities.
Let’s re-write the Hosea passage to read, “There is faithfulness and kindness, and deep knowledge of God in the land; there is encouraging, truth-telling, life-nurturing help, sharing, and loyalty; the people break down barriers that keep people trapped in poverty and desperation. The land is full of rejoicing and abundance.”