Lenten Journey with the Poor

Post a Comment » Written on April 14th, 2009     
Filed under: home assignment, politics
Last Thursday, which was Maundy Thursday in Holy Week, I participated in an event sponsored by the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission called the Lenten Journey with the Poor. We spent the day walking around downtown Colorado Springs, visiting many of the places that low-income, no-income and homeless people might go in a typical day.

After gathering at the JPC office and receiving a brief orientation we prepared our hearts with a Lenten liturgy and then hit the streets. Our first stop was the Bijou House. The Bijou House is actually the center of a larger project that currently owns over 20 houses that are made available to low-income and no-income people who need a place to live. There is a grave in the back yard. When homeless people die and no one claims their remains at the city morgue the Bijou House collects them and lays them to rest in this grave. Every year on December 21st, which is the longest night of the year, a memorial service is held for those that have been laid to rest here.

We also visited several local parks where homeless people often congregate and then stopped by a bike shop for homeless people. This ministry is located in an old rundown warehouse between the railroad tracks and the river and provides bicycles and bicycle repairs for homeless people at no cost.

Another place where many homeless people spend time during the day is the public library, so we passed thru there as well, on our way to the Marian House Soup Kitchen where we had lunch and took a tour of the facility. They serve lunch to about 700-800 people every day at no cost.

After lunch we walked along the river where many people set up tents or other places of residence and then stopped by the Salvation Army Shelter which provides housing for about 200. We also saw the Springs Rescue Mission and the Samaritan Motel, other places of refuge for homeless people in the Springs.

Along with all the visits, we received a good deal of facts and information about the plight of homeless people in this city. Upon returning to the JPC office we concluded the day with a time of reflection and prayer.

This event provided a first hand look at the problems of homelessness and poverty in Colorado Springs and gave us a great summary of what services are already in place and what some of the greatest needs are. It was also a very powerful Lenten reminder of how important it is to address these problems within the framework of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare to return to Tokyo one of my goals is learn as much as I can about these very same problems in Japan and how they are being addressed. My hope is that we will find ways to incorporate more ministries of compassion, mercy and justice into what we do there as missionaries and as followers of Jesus.

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