10 Years ago, I decided to live on the streets of San Antonio during the Lenten season to learn about homelessness in San Antonio and how I could better understand the community through acts of solidarity. I was a youth pastor at Trinity Baptist Church, and at the time, the congregation was grappling how to serve the unhoused population at their newly opened TriPoint Community Center. I had very little understanding of the realities of homelessness and wanted better understand the community before I formed any opinion of services. Little did I know how formative the 40+ days would end up becoming!
The journey was not perfect but It was a life changing event that unexpectedly changed the direction of my life, ministry, and calling. I have the privilege of now looking back on those days, the relationships formed, and lessons learned from a much different perspective.
This year, 2022, I am going to post each daily “40 Days of Haven” blog post on my personal blog www.gavinrogers.com during lent unedited with only some slight name changes for clarity and then post a current reflection. (In 2012, I was still protecting some identities to respect their own story.). I hope you enjoy, read with lots of grace and forgiveness, and reflect with me during this Lenten Season of 2022. -gavin
Here is an article my good friend Lindy wrote for Focus on the Family’s Leadership Institute. My prayers are with them as they change their program to better meet the needs of current college students.
For Holy Week 2013 I went back to the streets of San Antonio and lived “under the stars” with my good friend Lorenza Andrade Smith. She is an ordained Methodist minister in the Southwest Texas Conference and has been living among the homeless for over 2 years. She carries no money, lives completely outside, and has no health care. (She only carries a bag, sleeping bag, a communion chalice, a phone, and a few food gift cards she receives from givers.)
She has taught me a lot about “living among” and how to care for the poor without harming their pride, esteem, integrity, and humanization. She totally has given up everything to live with the community she is called to live among.
Going to back to spend the nights living on the streets of San Antonio was like a dream in someways. It did not take me long to remember the smells, sounds, and feelings on experiences on the streets.
During the next few posts I will recall my journey back to the streets of San Antonio.
A friend of mine, named Cowboy, told me that “nobody on the streets should be called homeless. Our home is where we lay our head. That could be the shelter, a bridge, or a friend’s floor.” It sounds cliche…but home really is where you make it.