In Columbia, with a population of approximately 100,000 — at least half of whom claim to be Christians — we have 188 active duty police officers, and Chief Ken Burton wants to recruit 40 more.
As if that were not enough, so many people are so paranoid that we have added cameras to the mix.
With the number of people who claim to be religious, we probably shouldn't need any more police, except to direct traffic.
The problem is that the Christians are faithfully worshiping God but have not learned how to become spiritual graduates and share their time with those who are less fortunate. Their definition of working for God is not the same as God's definition.
Jesus healed completely. He did not pay lip service with a tidbit here and a tidbit there. The homeless were not to be coddled all their lives. They were encouraged to get back up and be a part of society, even if they chose to be successful and poor without addictions attached.
The evidence is obvious when everyone Christian and non-Christian is forced to witness so many homeless carrying their belongings on their backs as though they were pack mules.
Because our religious leaders obviously refuse to work out a solution to solve the homeless dilemma, the police are left with no choice at times but to arrest them, making matters worse. Now the homeless are considered not only derelicts but criminals as well.
About three years ago, a man named Stanley Lamberson was released from Boone County Jail in the middle of a freezing December. He walked back into town, found a stairwell door unlocked at the Travelodge Motel, and he was discovered later, frozen to death.
Another man was found dead in Flat Branch Park, and another lost his life in a fire.
With all the thousands of Christians in Columbia, this is uncalled for.
Have they become so callous that they cannot leave a phone number with the police and ask them to call when someone is released from jail with a need they could respond to?
What happened to the religious leaders who passed onto the police the job of cleaning up the city?
Why is it that I never see any Christians on foot or driving up streets and alleys helping these people get themselves straightened out?
All you hear from Christians is, “I wasn’t called to preach,” when that is all the Holy Scripture is about.
Every talent or skill a Christian has could be shared with another who is less fortunate. If every person with a Christian background would donate at least 5 percent of their time or about eight hours per week to help another who is less fortunate, what a difference we would make.
In fact, I believe that idea should become law since everyone is so selfish with their time.
“I don’t have time for that” is not a good excuse when we don’t seem to run out of time being experts after a person commits a crime.
On the other hand, it is nearly impossible not to find a police officer in Columbia.
Why don’t we have church substations in or near every shopping area? They could be open 24/7 so indigents could receive help, whatever the need — frustration, hunger, depression — and a place to store belongings so they could walk the streets like a normal human.
The church substations should also have classes or programs available where volunteer citizens and students could share their talents and coach the homeless on how to be ladies and gentlemen since many have lost or traded those skills for a different lifestyle.
Since many church leaders and members are reluctant to share their worship services with the homeless for a variety of reasons, substations would be an excellent alternative to re-educate and ease them back into the mainstream’s “successful” lifestyle.
In my view, we are not spending much of our intellect or energy trying to solve this problem. Many wonderful people are being forced to seek other means to sustain themselves in ways most of society does not approve of.
Sin is nothing more than a problem without a solution. To blame the homeless when problems enter their lives that are beyond their control — fire, eviction, accident — and rub their noses in those problems is really just saying you don’t want to be bothered.
We need to stop blaming the homeless for everything we don’t want to be bothered about.
The successful leaders of society are just as much to blame for the situation, though they want to place all the blame on the homeless.
Let us learn to be problem-solvers. I believe that there is a solution for every problem.
Gary Kelley is a minister in Columbia. The views expressed here are his own.