My name is Allan and I am Homeless

I have ministered in the GTA for over 16 years and both churches we have served have partnered with Church in the City and their Community Dinners.  The way it works is that we are paired with a church in our case the Family Worship Centre in Courtice and together we go downtown every second month.  One month we bring the main meal and Courtice provides dessert and the next time around we reverse roles.

This past Saturday we were really looking forward to being downtown again because the Community Dinners had moved to a better location at the Christian Resource Centre.  Finding a facility for a Community Dinner is difficult in downtown Toronto and while thankful for their last location this new location is certainly better.  Here are some before and after pictures.

  As you can see the facility is great and for you cooks yes the kitchen is modern.  Many years ago we were working with a kitchen oven and warmers so this new place is a vast improvement.

As I was serving there was a man sitting in the corner by himself who asked if he could have another meal.  It was early in the evening so I told him he would have to wait until about 6:30 for seconds.  He was quite agreeable and I sat down and we started to talk.  Here is a snapshot of his life.

  • Allan and his wife worked at GM in Oshawa which is very close to our town of Brooklin
  • His wife and daughter was killed by a drunk driver
  • He got high for 3 months and when he came down he had lost everything
  • He has been on the street for 16 years, living outdoors in a makeshift camp
  • He still does drugs occasionally but never in pubic
  • He picks up bottles for extra cash
  • 80% of his food comes out of dumpsters
  • He is taunted for being homeless
  • The only time he feels respected is when he goes to the bank to be served

When you feel like writing a homeless person off remember the person you pass could be the next Ted Williams.

Here is Ted on the Today Show

I thanked our congregation on Sunday for helping by giving, cooking and helping us serve downtown.  We were able to provide Allan with a nice meal and another to take home.  There will always be debates as to how to help the homeless.  Like most people at times I have given money directly to people on the street.  I have also brought people into restaurants and bought them food and I have given to organizations that help the homeless.  No matter how to decide to be a blessing, one thing we can always give the person on the street is respect.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)

Pictures 1, 2, 3

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11 Responses to My name is Allan and I am Homeless

  1. Thanks for this, Peter.

  2. Off The Cuff says:

    Hello Peter Great blog
    I work in downtown Toronto where I interact with homeless people quite often, Allan mentioned how important respect is. We need to remember that these folks are society’s most vulnerable, a little respect and care goes a long way.

    • Sean,

      You are right, a couple of bad breaks and a couple of bad decisions and any one of us could find ourselves in Allan’s situation.

    • Bel says:

      Sean, I notice that you used the word interact. That speaks volumes. You actually not only notice them but interact with them in some way. Most people would say that they see homeless people often. You also are doing a ministry among them by not only noticing them but giving them the respect they deserve as fellow human beings.

      • Off The Cuff says:

        Every person has their own unique identity. Some of my most memorable experiences working in the city include some of the homeless people I know. Don’t ever discount how your interaction with a homeless person can effect their life. I know one fellow who is 47 years old and has never heard someone say I love you, “Never”!!!!!!!!! Imagine that, a small phrase, how many more are there like him out there???? Too many I’m afraid.

  3. Bel says:

    I have been homeless but by the Grace of Almighty God I never ended up living on the streets. People at the church I was going to took me in until I could get on my feet. I almost ended up there again but God’s Grace brought a call from housing so I now have a tiny apartment that I am sincerely grateful for.

    One thing I always do is to look at people and say hello, good morning or good evening. I say it to everyone I pass. Most of the time when I’m in Toronto or Brampton people clutch their purses a little tighter or look at me like I’m saying good morning to distract them to steal from them. (I am a black woman) Doesn’t bother me though, I will continue to say hello. Now that I live in a small town in the country people are more likely to say hello back and stop for a chat. I am in Toronto often now as I take seminary courses at Tyndale and I still visit Brampton often as I have friends and family there. I am constantly reminded of the difference between city and country. In the city it’s often only the down and out that will return my greeting with a smile. I may not have the funds to help but I can invest a smile at the very least. And it’s everyone that needs a smile and respectful greeting but none more so than those society deems unworthy.

    Thanks for another thoughtful piece Peter.

    • Bel,

      Thank you for this. I think it is very easy as we pass by people on the street to forget they have a story and they are created in the image of God. I am glad you had people around to help you in your time of need. If we all do our part the need will be met. I am also a Tyndale Student so besides blogs we have another thing in common:)

      • Bel says:

        We also have a friend in common. Suraj suggested I follow your blog and I’m very glad he did. Who knows, we may have even had a class together at some point. God bless you Peter as you continue to do His work in such an interesting fashion. I was just thinking today that we need more pastors to be less stick in the muds and more involved in the actual work in the world. You are certainly doing that.

  4. magsx2 says:

    Great photos, the new facility’s look great, so much better for everyone. 🙂
    We also have a few homeless in the city that I live in here in Australia, and it is amazing how far a smile and a bit of respect will go, and I agree, anyone at anytime can find themselves in this situation.
    A great post.

  5. Paul Gillam says:

    Great thoughtful and challenging post, including the comments. I don’t make it down to the GTA often, but there are many opportunities to show respect and to value each person. Allan’s story is a great reminder to choose to do this in ALL my daily relationships, whether it is with a person who doesn’t have a ‘house’ or with the person who passes me my coffee at Tummies.

  6. This is an inspiration, Peter!!! Sometimes, I get so caught up in everything that it’s a God thing when I stumble upon something like this. Thank you.

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