A hush fell on the congregation as Pastor John stood at the podium for the special announcement after the service. "Our country has a trillion dollar deficit. The government may need to eliminate all of our social programs. According to the Washington Post In 2008, 30 million people received food stamp; today it's 46 million."
Pastor John looked down at his notes. "After a lot of prayer, I would like to expand the church building to include apartments for the homeless. Isaiah 57: 7 says, 'Share your food with the hungry and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes. When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours, and donít refuse to help your own relatives.' That's what we need to do as a congregation. We are going to work with some of the homeless shelters in the area. We're offering them a temporary address. Each candidate would be interviewed to make sure they're serious about getting their lives in order. I would also like to set up a program where we can counsel people about the reason they got into the situation they're in."
Pastor looked up from his notes and smiled. "What do you think of this? Does anyone have any comments?" The congregation remained motionless as they stared at the pastor.
After the big announcement, Bill, the chairman of the elders, walked into the pastor's office and sat down. "Pastor, have you lost your mind?"
Pastor John threw some papers down on the desk. "I don't understand."
Bill did not make eye contact. "I understand your compassion for the homeless, but this will never work."
Pastor John's face turned red. "What do you mean it won't work? Bill, the homeless need Jesus too."
Bill threw up his hands. "The homes in this neighborhood are expensive. The house across the street sold for $300,000. The neighbors are not going to stand for it. The city will never approve a building permit. Who wants to see grungy homeless people lined up on the sidewalk when they come to church? After they leave, we'll have the smell of body odor permeate the church."
Pastor John looked over his glasses. "I really believe that the Lord is calling us to do this."
Bill's veins on his forehead throbbed. "You saw the congregation's reaction to this. The people don't want this."
Pastor John glared at Bill. "We have to be obedient to the Lord."
"Pastor, this would be really bad for our church."
Pastor John exhaled. "I feel really strongly about this. If the church doesn't do this, you may lose your pastor. I've served this congregation faithfully for 20 years. I love the people of this church, but I love the Lord more. I have to follow his instructions."
Bill looked down on the ground. "I'll take it before the board."
A few weeks later, Bill met with the pastor. "We've talked about your proposal. There was a consensus on the board to not have this on church property. We would be open to the idea of a expansion on a different location. We don't want to lose you."
Pastor John looked down at his desk. "When I made this announcement to the church, I quoted from the book of Isaiah: it said to open your homes. The church is God's home. I don't know about this."
Just then there was a knock on the door. The pastor went up to answer it. Bill spun around to see who was at the door. There was a old man with a cane.
"Can I help you?" Pastor asked.
"Me and my wife just had a fight; she kicked me out. I am retired, and I don't have a place to live. Can you help me?"
Bill's jaw dropped to the ground.
Pastor turned around and looked at Bill. "Bill, these are the needy we need to serve."
"Pastor, I'll try my hardest to convince the board."
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