When I thought of homeless shelters, I pictured the soup kitchens after World War 1, or the refugee shelters after a big disaster. I started working at our local homeless shelter in 2015, and what I found was much different than what I imagined.
What I found were people in various stages of life who were either recently incarcerated, addicted to drugs and alcohol, or mentally unstable to one degree or another.
Who should be in the homeless shelter?
2nd Thessalonians 3:6-12 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Those who are unable to work because they are single parents with small children, those who are handicapped physically or mentally to the point that they can not work without intensive one on one supervision, or those who are sick to the point of being unable to work... these are the people who we should have compassion on and extend charity to.
However, the majority of the people I come in contact with each day at the homeless shelter are able bodied people in their 20's through their 40's, but can not hold a job because they do not work well with others, they can't take criticism from their boss, they can't make it to work on time, they blow their first paycheck on getting high or drunk and don't come back the next week. So instead of living up to societies standards of holding down a job, paying for your own place to live, your own utilities, your own food, your own transportation, we see these people living in a sub-culture of street people / shelter people.
Once these people get into a homeless shelter, 90% of them have no plans on getting out of the homeless shelter and returning to "normal life" and they hunker down and start treating the shelter like their home until they get kicked out.
Who Should Be In The Discipleship Center?
The Discipleship Center is intended for people who have difficulty integrating into society, but do not have any major physical or mental handicap other than their own cognitive distortions. Even if the cognitive distortion (reasoning errors) are diagnosed by a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, or Sociologist as some "disorder", at some point the individual will have to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions and learn how to manage them. We understand that people who have never been held to an achievable standard of responsibility will usually gravitate to the lowest amount of effort for the greatest amount of benefit. That's where TDC can fill the gap by raising the expectations over time and to train people to earn their place in society.
But TDC is much more than a social and behavioral modification camp. We believe that God has made this world in order to sustain the people who live here, and that every solution to every problem begins and ends with God and his word. If I trained someone to be the most productive member of society, and they go on to become a millionaire, live in a mansion, own a dozen cars, own an enterprise that employed thousands, and they made the cover of TIME magazine, but then they died and went to hell because I failed to teach them how to become a citizen of the kingdom of God, then our whole mission would have been a failure for that person.
Our primary mission is to
Heal Broken Lives
So when people leave The Discipleship Center, they return to their community as productive members of society who can hold a job, provide for their own needs, become part of the local church and be a missionary to their community.