One of the things that I noticed in London last year was the number of homeless people who slept on church doorsteps. Not lots at a time, but often one solitary figure with some cardboard and blankets or a sleeping bag - like an unusual night security guard.
My first thought was to wonder why the churches didn't just find better accommodation for those who slept on their doorsteps. And then I quickly remembered that this is rarely that simple. It's not just that affordable accommodation is rare, but also that too frequently the state of such lodgings is such that people would prefer to sleep on the streets. That church doorsteps were intentionally chosen as an alternative says something about a sense of safety and security that people expected to find there. I know of homeless people that have been very unceremoniously ushered out of the doorways of commercial businesses in the mornings, but the expectation of the church should be somewhat different.
This all came back to me this morning when I found a young man with a blanket on the doorstep of our corps building. I must admit a part of me hesitated for a moment. Saturday is a rare day off and all the more precious lately but I couldn't drive past. The young man was sleeping despite the fact that the sun had been up for more than 5 hours - he must have had quite a night. I had to wake him to make sure he was ok but he didn't seem to mind and we talked for a while about accommodation and meals options for the weekend. I'm not sure whether he'll take up my suggestions today but hopefully he'll be back tomorrow for our community lunch and we'll talk again. May God provide safety and shelter for all those who find themselves running out of options.