One thing I could say about 2014 so far is that it is cold. I am sure most of you would probably agree. The cold weather has surely brought some hardships among many of our fellow residents — higher heating costs, traffic jams, car accidents, freezing pipes, just to name a few. However, being snowed in or frozen in has offered me some time to reflect on some of the needs of our community as a whole, and how we can address them.
When thinking about the needs of our county, I always try to put them in the light of Jesus’ command to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Thinking about how I love myself, I have come to this conclusion: I love myself by providing for myself — food, clothing, Starbucks, shelter, heat, Starbucks, light, transportation, Starbucks, education, you get the idea. So now, how do I love my neighbor? When the crowds approached John the Baptist, they asked him what they should do to bear fruits of repentance. John answered by saying, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” I take this to mean that we need to share our love for ourselves, with regards to material possessions, and expand it to include love for our neighbors. If we only look at the most basic necessities of life — food, clean water, shelter and clothing — we can say that there are some outlets for people to participate in when looking to follow Jesus’ command to love your neighbor. We have Love INC, The Caring Center, Alpha House, Salvation Army, the Shalom House, Classic Reruns and Habitat for Humanity, just to name the few that I aware of with my limited knowledge. I am sure that I am missing many other outlets that loving people are engaged in throughout our county. It seems to me that there are some avenues for those in need to receive food, water and clothing. It also seems to me that we have limited opportunities for shelter, and this cold weather has brought this revelation to the forefront of my mind once again.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on any given night in the United States of America 633,782 of our neighbors will be homeless. About 50% of the homeless population is families with children. The same report goes on to say that only 15.8% of this population is chronically homeless, while the rest experience situational or transitional homelessness. In light of all this, I would like to put out this idea as a possible solution. We have the perfect building available to suit the needs of all of our neighbors with issues of inadequate shelter. I have heard that the Old Stokes School is for sale for $800,000.
Consider this: in Boone County there are 21,631 households. If each household would give $37, it would be enough to purchase this building to provide shelter for those in need. After the initial cost of the building is secured, I believe that if every household in Boone County were to give $10 per year, we could sustain this loving care to our neighbors for years to come. If you see this as a Christian response to Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor, or if you see this as a humanitarian endeavor, I think that this year’s cold weather calls us to consider the possibility and the opportunity. Peace.
The Rev. Scott D. Mauch is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lebanon.