A popular proverb says: “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime!” The concept is true enough, given that several conditions are also true. There may not be a body of water containing fish nearby, or the man in the proverb does not have the ability to master the art of fishing! Often, the difficulties lie in the details! Supplying fishing tackle with the appropriate educational information will not always produce a competent fisherman! There needs to be something more.
At VRM we are often asked if making meals and beds available for anyone who is in need, is not contributing to the problem of homelessness. The answer to that question is “maybe, but probably not!” No one can read the inner motivations of each heart except God, and for some who receive services at VRM, they may indeed be taking advantage of “free stuff.” But for most, this is not the case. Most homeless and addicted people have access to enough physical resources and education to be able to theoretically lift oneself from the mire of addiction and homelessness. This is where the problem gets complicated. Why is the homeless problem not solved? Why are so few people taking full advantage of all that is available to them? Because they are not yet able.
The largest portion of homeless and addicted are paralyzed by guilt and fear. Guilt reveals itself in shame, fear reveals itself in anger.
The surprising truth about most addicted and homeless individuals is that they are able live with what has happened to their own lives. What is most achingly dreadful to these individuals however is, their choices and circumstances have affected the lives of the people most dear to them. Husbands, wives, parents, friends and the most painful, their children. When one is confronted with the wreckage inflicted on loved one’s lives, it becomes too difficult to bear. Despairing retreat from the responsibilities of living follows close behind.
That is why VRM needs to be “more” than just a bed and a meal! The real issues of guilt, shame, fear and anger must be resolved in a person before he or she is able to move forward into healing. This is when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most applicable. VRM is not merely a rescue and recovery center. The goal of VRM is to have as many individuals as possible, become reconciled to God! The Bible states very clearly (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) that “God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” If reconciliation with God is the primary goal, then reconciliation with one another, freedom from guilt, shame, fear and anger will be the lasting result. Critical to understanding this dynamic is that addictive behavior is the self-protective mechanism people use to suppress these destructive feelings. If these issues can be daily resolved through a vibrant Spiritual life in Christ, the craving for self-destructive behavior can be greatly reduced over time as the individual matures spiritually. Joy, mental clarity, contentedness and healthy familial relations now become possible. Hope returns and restoration is within reach. 2019 is the year for VRM to refresh and re-emphasize the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A few years ago, I heard the best short definition of the Gospel I had ever heard, from Dr. R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries. He said, “the Gospel is about the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and how the benefits can be received by sinners (meaning all of us).” He was exactly right! Thank you for partnering with us!