February 7-13, 2011
Church Ministry News
Churches reach out to homeless during Lunar New Year holidays
Reported by Chiou Kuo-rong, Chen Yi-hsuan
Written by Lydia Ma
Are homeless people always lazy folks who can get a job but won’t? Not so, according to a recent survey on homelessness conducted by Homeless of Taiwan and Homeless Action Alliance based on a sample of homeless people who live near Taipei Train Station.
The research sampled 140 homeless folks and found that 90% of them had regular jobs and normal lives prior to becoming homeless. Of that 90%, 63% had full-time jobs and 11.4% even worked at a managerial level.
However, the survey also found that 71.4% of homeless people were manual workers at one time and hardly earned enough money to pay for food and shelter.
Kuo Ying-ching, a social worker from Salvation Army and one of the founders of Homeless of Taiwan, said that one of her New Year prayers was that the government would address the problem of poverty and become part of the solution, rather than the problem.
Homeless of Taiwan listed short-term demands and long-term demands for the government. Among the list of short-term demands included halting ineffective policies such as driving out homeless people, providing them with lockers where they can keep personal belongings, and places where they can shower. Long-term demands included providing housing to low-income people and stemming poverty.
PCT General Assembly’s role
According to PCT Church and Society Committee Secretary Huang Che-yen, the core problem with homelessness in Taiwan is that most homeless people are middle-aged people and older, making homelessness caused by unemployment a structural problem as most employers don’t like to hire older people. He added that though the organizational chart of the PCT doesn’t have a committee or organization devoted to homeless ministries, a lot of outreach takes place at the local church level. Huang listed Chungcheng Presbyterian Church in Hsinchu Presbytery as example and underscored the General Assembly’s role is to provide information and help local churches that share similar visions to connect with one another in serving the homeless population.
South Taiwan also springs to action
In related news, Tainan Presbytery’s Church and Society Committee delivered a hot meal to homeless people in Tainan. This one-time event was held just before the Lunar New Year, on January 29, 2011 under a huge Banyan tree in Tainan Park and several local church members and pastors volunteered to distribute hot pork noodles to the homeless.
Tainan Presbytery Church and Society Committee Secretary Tsai Cheng-tao reported the presbytery had prepared over 200 bowls of hot pork noodle and homeless people waited in line to receive their serving. Many stayed at the park to enjoy the hot meal on that cold winter day.
Tainan Park was chosen based on its proximity to Tainan Train Station, where many homeless live or gather. Tsai hoped this small gesture would bless and comfort those without homes during holidays and inspire more ministries to the homeless in the city.
“We know providing them with a hot meal is not a long-term solution,” said Tsai, adding that he hoped through the ministries of local churches, Christians would eventually pressure the Taiwanese government to take the plight of the homeless seriously.