Liberty & Justice for All…

As we stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance the last few words stood out to me, almost as if they were prophetic: “… with liberty and justice for all“.  My husband and I were in the front row on the far left as he had signed up to speak for two minutes and thirty seconds on behalf of our homeless community. The meeting was standing room only with an overflow room out in the foyer with a monitor of the meeting in progress. The city and business owners on Beach Street were in an uproar when our homeless friends were moved from the City Island Park, and because they needed a place to sleep they decided to move to the Volusia County tag and title office on Beach Street (some call it The Wall). It is my understanding that as the law stands they cannot be moved unless there is a shelter provided for them. City council members unanimously voted to begin construction asap of the new shelter that was approved last year at Tiger Bay.

During the meeting my husband shared briefly of his spending approximately 200 hours with our homeless friends as we and many in our community serve a nutritios meal every Saturday on North Street in Daytona Beach.  He also shared that just like any of us, our homeless friends also need a bed, bathroom and a meal.

Many are disgusted with the homeless and say they are lazy and need to get a job. I know, because we used to think the same thing until Jesus showed us Matthew 25:31-46, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, thirsty and you gave me something to drink, without clothes and you clothed me, without shelter and you gave me shelter, sick and in prison and you visited me…If you’ve done it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you’ve done it to me.” And even more recently with feeding the homeless in Daytona we’ve spent as he said, hours and hours with them and have come to know some of them on a personal basis and I can guarantee you that it’s not just a matter of getting up, putting on clean clothes and filling out a job application, and even if they do, they most likely will NOT get the job. Why? Because for various reasons they are most times physically and emotionally incapable of holding down a job. We know personally one of our homeless friends that came to Daytona with his wife many years ago during one of our bike events and after getting on their motorcycle, all this person remembers is waking up in a hospital finding out that his wife had died due to an accident. He personally told my husband that he has not been able to get over it. Some of us are able to get over tragedies in life, but many are not and as a result, some are oftentimes incapable of funtioning in what we call normal society.

Like it or not, they are children of God and He has called his people to love them with action by giving them food, water, clothing and even a place to sleep and a Nation that takes care of their poor will be a blessed Nation, “If a King judges the poor fairly, his throne will last forever.” Proverbs 29:14. Another great verse is: “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.” Proverbs 28:27. Also, “He who gives to the poor, lends to the Lord and that which he has given, God will repay him.” Proverbs 19:17. These verses are just a drop in the bucket compared to the many verses regarding helping the poor all throughout the Bible. Basically it all comes down to this: We are to be merciful even as our heavenly Father is merciful and if we do not show mercy, we will not receive mercy.

As we said those words and I heard them with my own ears, “…Liberty and Justice for All” I thought, “this includes our homeless friends”. What may help others to understand and have mercy on the poor would be to do what I personally have done many years ago and say, “What if that were me? Would I want someone there to help me?” My response to myself was an emphatic, “Yes!”

Whether the city of Daytona knew it or not, their decision to close down the park for the homeless led them to a place to move on building the shelter. Personally I have to say that the Lord, because he speaks about Justice, turned this situation out for good by providing a bed, bathroom and a meal.

Update: 1/12/16
To the good people of Volusia County: 
FYI, we went down to “The Wall” tonight and served some hot coffee and donuts to the 42 folks sleeping outside at the county building. No one told me this, but I think these folks have a place to sleep without being harassed or told what to do, for the first time in a long time and they really like it. And maybe if they leave, it would somehow be taken from them (county/city put up barricades or work zone signs, fence, etc.). So they wouldn’t leave, even to take advantage of HUM’s great program for cold weather shelter and chose to remain outside. Personally, I like our friends out there in the open, where all the city, business people and voters can see them. It’s a disgrace for our community that a safe bed is not provided for them every night. I hope and pray they can stay there until something is done. As for the folks, you will be glad to know, every single one of them had warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags (the 40 or so Ormond Church provided a few weeks ago are good for 20degrees) and a cot, thanks to Michael Pastore.
By Rick Tidwell.

Update: 2/5/16
Recently our homeless friends have been moved to a temporary shelter at the Daytona Beach Salvation Army. For more see article by the Daytona Beach  News Journal

Photo by: Nina Tidwell Photography