When a community is facing a challenge such as homelessness, we may think of a host of possible solution approaches. Examples include reporting on the situation in the media to bring attention and focus to the problem, developing shelters for the homeless, bring in more law enforcement resources to enforce ordinances, and developing organizations that can provide or coordinate resources to help move the homeless into a more productive role in society.
Another approach that became known as the Prayer Warriors proved effective as the Jointly-Maintained Downtown Christian Science Reading Room in Sacramento, California found out over the past couple of years. What began, on a cold October day, as a visit by a group of ladies from a nearby Christian Science Senior residential facility became this healing prayer team.
The topic of homelessness had appeared frequently in the Sacramento news reports and even gained attention in the national news, and these ladies were aware that there was a large homeless population in the city. After seeing a number of homeless people on the streets near the Reading Room, they stated that they would like to help these people in some small but loving way. The ladies wondered if perhaps they could knit hats and mittens for them. On hearing the proposal, the Reading Room staff attendant suggested that, while many people could knit, not everyone was practicing healing as this small group of Christian Scientists was doing. After considering this comment, they decided to join together each Wednesday afternoon for about two hours to read an article from the Christian Science periodicals dealing with how to heal homelessness or some of the many challenges of so-called “street people” such as alcoholism, drug addictions, mental instability, etc.
The Downtown Partnership, a group dedicated to the improvement of the central business district, has a team called the Navigators, who specifically work with the homeless. A member of the Navigators often joins the group for a short period to explain some of the challenges in working with the homeless population and to ask prayerful support for some of them, noting that these individuals always remain anonymous. These prayers are fortified by the thoughts and examples from the healing articles. These articles include supporting citations from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and other writings by Mary Baker Eddy all of which are available in the Reading Room for reading, borrowing or sale. The moderator reads an article out loud, stopping often to highlight a healing point, which the group then discusses as spiritual insight is gleaned by this study. This is the basis of their prayerful work for the homeless population, the Navigators, and for the healing of their own thoughts about homelessness, fear, separation, and sin.
They report definite results seen in progress as witnessed by the Navigators and it feels good to participate in their successes. For the year 2011, the placement of homeless individuals by this small agency was reported at over 100 people, a 50+ % increase over 2010. Individual team members also experience growth in grace, as they behold the individuals as God’s beloved and blessed sons and daughters. They know that since there is “neither bond nor free”, we are all equals in God’s creation, despite appearances.
Each city, village, or town throughout the country has challenges of one form or another. They won’t be hard to find and they actually may find you if they haven’t already. I stand willing to take up a challenge that comes my way after the pattern of these Prayer Warriors and I expect this work will add to the peace, harmony, and sense of well-being in the community. These Prayer Warriors and others in their community were blessed way beyond their expectations. Will you join me in this holy work?
I would like to acknowledge the primary source for this blog post which was the Sacramento Jointly-Maintained Christian Science Reading Room staff.