Homeless Outreach Ministries at Financial Crisis

( [email protected] ) Dec 04, 2003 10:38 AM EST

Christian-based homeless outreach ministries are going through tough time at the busiest season of the year due to financial crisis. The director of a Christian-based homeless shelter in New Mexico says a sluggish economy is having a big impact on the ministry.

The executive director, Jeremy Reynalds of Joy Junction, a ministry that has reached out to homeless families in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the past 17 years, says times are tough for his ministry and for others nationwide because of the slow economy. Joy Junction serves an average of 150 meals a day, seven days a week.

"We have to remind people delicately that ... even though awful things are happening around the world, even though we have a war going on, despite that, there are still homeless women, families, boys and girls, and we just continue to need ongoing help on a month-by-month basis," Reynalds says.

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service indicates that hunger and food insecurity in America has risen for the past three years in a row (a food-insecure household is defined as one that faces limited or uncertain availability of food). Last year 34.9 million people (12.5%) lived in food-insecure households -- that is 1.26 million more people than the year before -- and that number includes 13.1 million children. And last year, 9.3 million people lived in households in which someone was hungry some of the time; and in about 567,000 households children went hungry -- that is about 100,000 more than the year before.

In addition, Bread for the World, an international Christian ministry seeking to address hunger, reports that more than 840 million people around the world are undernourished, and every day 31,000 children die from hunger-related causes. And even in the U.S., approximately one child in five lives in a household where someone is hungry or at risk of hunger.

Joy Junction was founded by Reynalds in 1986 as a way to reach out to entire families facing hardship. But now the ministry is facing hardship of its own as it is burdened with financial crisis, which he blames on the sluggish economy and decline in the stock market.

The director is hoping that people will be more generous in giving although the nation is at war, facing uncertain economy. He still believes God will fill up the needs of his ministry to accomplish its task through out the rest of the year.

"Otherwise, not only are we going to have a war in Iraq, and not only are we going to be having still to cope with the aftermath of 9-11, but we're going to end up minus one ministry for the homeless and also [minus] many others around the country," Reynalds says.

Reynalds is hoping along with others who are in the similar ministry that, as people see various rescue ministries and faith-based ministries working in communities around and being more persistent in making appeals, "they won't just dismiss those appeals, but will start to pray for these ministries and will start to ask the Lord to pour out his blessings on them on Thanksgiving and during the upcoming coming holiday season."