The Raleigh based Love Wins Ministries are putting their faith into action by feeding anyone who was hungry, that is until the weekend of Aug. 24.
Since 2007, the Love Wins Ministries would head to Moore Square in Raleigh, N.C. and feed the homeless. They brought the compassion of Christ to their city every weekend for six years.
An officer told them, quite bluntly as the person writing the blog said, "that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested."
Every weekend the Love Wins Ministries would team up with five different, large suburban churches in the Raleigh area to feed the homeless. These churches joined together with combined manpower and shared costs to show the love of Christ through feeding the homeless. The free meals consisted of hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich.
These meals were provided without cost or obligation. On Aug. 24, Raleigh police officers prevented them from distributing 100 sandwiches to over 70 people who had lined up for breakfast. A representative of the ministry asked the police if they could feed the homeless and were told no. Those who had come for breakfast were turned away, still hungry.
The ministry said they always had a good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department. The Love Wins Ministry volunteers knew they couldn't use the park without a permit. They would arrive at Moore Square and set up on the sidewalk outside the park, that had been acceptable in the past. As long as they didn't block the sidewalk they were allowed to feed those who were hungry.
They always cleaned up after themselves and were never prevented from giving away the food. On Aug. 24, Raleigh police officers wouldn't allow them to feed the homeless The ministry was informed feeding the homeless would get them arrested.
According to the blog no one from the Raleigh Police Department was willing or could tell the ministry which city ordinance was broken. After six years of feeding the homeless now all of a sudden the police wanted to enforce a code they had failed to do so until now.
The ministry asked the officer why they were being prevented from feeding the homeless and what ordinance they had broken the officer's reply was: "I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail.”
The Love Wins Ministry said they will continue to feed the homeless. It's not sure where they'll accomplish this, but the ministry said the homeless would not be ignored. They said on their blog there is no tax-funded place for homeless to get a meal on the weekends. The ministry was filling an obvious gap by feeding the homeless.
The Love Wins Ministry has posted on their blog phone numbers for the Raleigh Mayor and city council. Click here to view their blog, then scroll down toward the bottom to find those numbers. If you would like to know more about the Moore Square incident, the FAQs page can be found by clicking here.
A lot of support for homeless people comes from churches and non-profit organizations so it makes absolutely no sense for cities across this nation to ban feeding them. Unfortunately the above story is not an isolated incident. There are numerous accounts of volunteers being arrested, or threatened to be hauled off to jail by police.
A proposal in Houston, TX would require volunteers to receive training on how to feed the homeless (click here to view that story). This includes: "register with the city; complete food handlers training courses; prepare food in licensed kitchens; and require a cleanup plan following food service. The proposal also limits the feeding of homeless to be limited to three designated public parks."
Yes, certain rules perhaps should apply to ensure sanitary conditions in handling and preparing food, this would benefit everyone involved. However, passing legislation might be going a bit far. Most Christians would do all they could to ensure feeding the homeless would be done with the utmost care in preparation and handling of the food.
Jesus gave several examples of compassion when he fed those who were hungry and he asks us to do the same. James 2:14-17 says:
"(14) What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (17) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
Jesus said when we feed the hungry, clothe the poor and do good to the least of these you are actually doing these things to him. However, it would seem that the bureaucratic mindset rejects the notion that we as individuals or as a collective in our free society can make a difference.
The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceably assemble for any reason for the common good of people, feeding the homeless would definitely qualify as "common good." Christians across this nation should be following Christ's example by showing compassion to those less fortunate then we are.
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