Marron Wong was one of our volunteers who started serving the homeless in Sham Shui Po in 2019 November along with our partner, Christian Concerns for the Homeless Association. This year, she joined our Homeless Seminar over the course of three consecutive Sundays during Hope October. Hope October is an initiative in partnership with Island ECC where the church encourages the congregation to get involved in serving the local community. 2020 has been an extraordinary year, and so as the Hope October this year. Instead of diving straight into serving at the homeless outreach, we were given the invaluable opportunity to learn more about the issues concerning homelessness and the stories and life lessons from the sharing of the ex-homeless men.
Many of us often associate homelessness with people sleeping on the streets. After attended the “Human Library”, a virtual tour in Sham Shui Po guided by an ex-homeless man, I have learned that homelessness is a socio-economic problem more complex, multi-layered than I thought. Besides poverty, it is often intertwined with family breakdown, mental illness, alcohol and drugs addictions and other tragic life events. It is a state of isolation from the outside world, often saturated with stigma and shame from our society. Some of the homeless people are single people who have a temporary accommodation, such as a partitioned-flat. However, the living conditions of the accommodation are so appalling which drove them out of the apartment and eventually cause them to live on the street instead. People who are experiencing homelessness have to constantly remain hypervigilant to survive and have to experience a great degree of physical and mental strain and stress on a daily basis, which is extremely detrimental to their health and well-being. Contrary to the skewed belief that the homeless people are lurking in the dark places and up to no good, they are actually very vulnerable, longing to be seen, known and in companionship.
Another highlight of this year’s programme is that each of us have to observe and discover whether there is a homeless community in our own neighbourhood and share our findings with the fellow participants afterwards. As a volunteer who had previously joined the homeless outreach organized by Christian Concerns for the Homeless Association, this is my first time carrying out homeless outreach alone. It may sound a bit “dangerous”, but it has also given me an opportunity to partner with God more closely.
When I had personally encountered with a homeless man in the neighbourhood of my workplace, one thing I have learned is that we do not need a lot to give to partner with God. Offer some biscuits, bottled drinks and your time to talk to the person God wants you to care for. If you do not know what to say to a stranger living on the street, let the conversations you have with him be a Holy Spirit driven one. Show interest and get to know the person for who he is. Whatever you offer, albeit how small it seems to be in your own eyes, is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.