Saturday, July 26, 2008

Poverty and Crime

As I walked through the breezeway with my Bicycle I met a man. We had connected when I was the pastor at Northview. He is about 50 years old and now unemployed. He had just come from the Welfare Office and wanted to talk.

He was discouraged and was frantic to find work. “There is nothing in Peterborough as far as jobs are concerned! I have no idea where I will get money. I just came out of there…” as he pointed to the Welfare (Ontario Works) Office.

“I don’t want to go back to crime…” were his trailing words as he left me.

I was struck with his words. What will he do? Where will he go? I have no resources to help him now… I am no longer the pastor of a ‘wealthy church’ with money to give from a Benevolent Fund.

I am also unemployed and looking for work for the interim period – until the new ministry starts to pay. The fact of the matter the line between me and the dude I talked to in the breezeway is not that thick. Soon I will have little or nothing.

At least I have an address that eventually a “Employment Insurance check” may arrive to… he has nothing and is bunking at his new girl friend’s place on the floor.

There is a linkage between Poverty and Crime. I have been close to that linkage as I met the guy in the breezeway… closer than I like to think. In my old and very big church office of the past 10 years I was miles from that breezeway and the folk walking in and out of the welfare office/services. I simply thought I knew about it all… but I didn’t know what it was like to have NO INCOME.

Now lest you think for a moment that we are suffering – we are not. There is a wee bit of money that came with a good income tax return. There is always going to be enough – I think. Something always seems to work out if God is involved. But there are days I doubt and fear and frustrate myself and wish it was the way it used to be when I was sitting in the old, big office with less knowledge about E.I.

I have a hope. I am different than the guy in the breezeway. In September I could be starting a new business… or I could be employed and supported better when more finances come to the new ministry… I will be better off than others in the breezeway.

But it has been good for me to see what the others outside “the palace” live like. It has changed my life.

Again my thoughts are on Moses. He had lived 40 years inside the Pharaoh’s palace. He knew he was like the others outside but didn’t really know how. He stepped outside and the moment he did his world changed. New realities brought him new doubts and fears and running to the next place of refuge.

Man can I identify with this guy Moses. All except for the murder part of the story… THAT I HAVE NOT DONE…!

Reflecting in a breezeway today with my friend… who may be committing crime tonight… are your doors locked?

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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