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Anawim Christian Community is a community church made up of the homeless and the mentally ill. Our main goal is to provide for people's needs (including the need to be a disciple of Jesus) where they are at. We don't feel that a person needs to be something different before they get the help they need. Our center is in Gresham OR, which is where we lead and organize day shelters and a worship service. We also have a community house in N. Portland where housing is being provided for a few people and opportunities for community worship. We are connected to ministries in SE Portland and St. Johns, where we distribute food and clothing. And finally, through the internet, we educate people from almost every country in the world about homelessness, mental illness and the Christian response to each.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Reality Check

Hi, this is Pastor Steve.

You guys have helped us through another winter.  Thanks so much.  The number of donations have been staggering-- blankets, socks, hand warmers, sleeping bags, hygiene items, clothing, food and so much more.  You folks have helped our folks survive another winter, and because of that this is the first winter without any serious injuries to our homeless population.  Many people this winter got off the street permanently, as well.  This has been a good winter, over all.

However, our financial help has dropped from last winter, and this is a problem.  Because we have a center in Gresham now, which is a place for the homeless and many others to have a spiritual home, a place of peace and a warm place out of the cold.  But it is expensive.

And I wonder why the finances have dropped.  Some people, I know, have got other obligations, or have lost jobs or are going through hard times.  We understand.  We go through hard times, too.

But I wonder if people think that we don't need the money as much as we used to.  I just want to tell you, that isn't the case.

Let me give you a few facts:

Anawim has six staff people who volunteer their time.  Most of them have no salary coming in, and Anawim only gives financial help to one of them.  That one only receives about six thousand dollars a year for his and his family's expenses.  But we have staff that are going to lose their housing unless they get some income soon.  Beside our full and part time staff, we also have a group of more than a dozen volunteers who help us out one day a week or one day a month to help our broader community.

 That staff provides food for 400 people a month.  They provide clothing for a hundred people a week.  They provide pastoral counselling for hundreds.  They give the word of God.  They also send people to resources to help them in their need.  They give the homeless work, both paid and volunteer. They create a place of peace for those who have no peace.  They work hundreds of hours a week, mostly without pay.

Last year, we received approximately $25,000 total.  That's right.  For the amount of money that a single family would be considered to be in poverty, we have been able to help hundreds of the poor and we've got a regular staff that keeps us going.  I am amazed at the sacrifice and commitment of our people.

About half of that was given to rent for one property.  We spent another few thousand on another property, which we had to close.  Another few thousand went for food, to supplement the donations we received to feed those who come to us.  And the rest paid for our community house, and the salary for one staff person.  If you think about it, we make our money stretch pretty far.  We use everything we have to benefit others.

But we really need help, here.

Sure, we could use some more donations.  No question about that.  If anyone wants to help, we would sure appreciate it.  You can see that with such a low budget, every little bit that others can give really helps.  Maybe you are just looking because you appreciated what we post on Facebook or the blogs.  If you have been blessed, perhaps you can help us with just a little.  You can find out how to donate to us on our Support page, found here.

But we also really need some people to help us raise funds.  We've done fundraisers and sent letters and we discovered something: we aren't very good at it.  We write a mean newsletter, and produce a lot of hits on our blogs, but they don't bring in the finances we need to pay our rent, or to give our staff even a minimal amount of support.

If you could help us raise funds or know of someone who might be able to, please help us out.  We are open to wise counsel in the way of Jesus.  And we could use some help.

Finally, but not of least importance, please pray for us.  Pray for our finances.  Pray for our mental health-- really.  Pray that we would be able to overcome the obstacles we face, not only to help the homeless but to transform our broader community to be a place where the poor and not-so-poor help each other to help themselves.  To be a piece of the kingdom of God, growing right here in the Northwest.

Pastor Steve

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Story of Anawim... in the Bible

Some of you know that Pastor Steve took a three month break more than a year ago to write a book.  Many have wondered when it was going to be published, or if they could have a copy of it, or to just read it.  Steve has been pretty quiet about it, really.

Well, here is your opportunity!  Steve is publishing the book online!  He will be publishing it, a section at a time,  on this blog: Anawim: A Biblical Theology Told In Stories

It tells the story of the anawim in the Bible as well as parts of Steve's own story.  Keep in touch with it weekly!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mustard Seed Stories – Anawim

"One of the things we enjoy at Mustard Seed Associates is discovering the imaginative mustard seeds of hope and change being sown around the world. At the Justice Conference in Portland, OR this past week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Steve Kimes, Pastor of Anawim Christian Community – a community for the poor and unhoused in the greater Portland area........"

Full interview at this link:

How Your Church Can Help the Homeless

1. Find out: What other organizations are already helping the homeless? Look for them and find out what is already taking place in the area. Meet with them and ask them what needs to be done. If you can visit their program, talk with the homeless, and find out what they need in their area.

2. Determine what is the desire and resources of your congregation. Perhaps your congregation wants to partner with a group that is already working with the homeless. Perhaps they’d like to meet a need that isn’t already met. Pray about what the Spirit is leading your congregation to do.

3. Determine a balanced initial ministry. Homeless ministry must be balanced between efficiently meeting a need of the community and relating in love to those coming for services. Some good ministries a single congregations can do might be:
a. Serving a meal once a month or once a week
b. Opening up the church building to those in need of day shelter for five or six hours once a week
c. Providing sack lunches, socks, hygiene items, hand warmers, blankets, tarps or sleeping bags to organizations that serve the homeless, or taking such items out to the homeless.
d. Open up the church facility in the winter as an overnight shelter, especially on the worst nights

4. Educate your congregation about the homeless. Ask a minister to the homeless to give a "Homeless 101" about homeless culture and ministry.

5. At some point you will have to address the issue of liability and church conflict. Some people in the church will be nervous about having the homeless around the facility, and some might be vocally unhappy about having the homeless around at all. Make some fair boundaries (and make sure that everyone sticks to them) for the ministry, such as it occurs during certain times and no camping on church property (unless that’s one of the needs you are meeting). At the same time, we need to remember that all real ministry involves risk. The congregation will have to determine together what the balance of risk and boundaries they will take.

6. Once you have had some regular contact with the homeless, ask them what their needs are, no matter how small, no matter how big. It is important that our ministry to the homeless actually meet the needs of the homeless and not what we assume their needs are. As much as you are able, have the homeless participate in the ministry you are providing them. Give them volunteer opportunities, ask their opinion and give some leadership (but pick your leaders carefully).

7. Listen to the homeless who come to your church, and pray for their needs, both with them and away from them. For many of these folks you may be the only one praying for them, and God will act if we pray.

8. To meet the larger needs of the homeless, try to network with other churches in your community. Many churches are looking for an opportunity to help the homeless, and would love to participate with others. Come up with a plan and invite as many churches as possible to participate with you. Some successful ministries that local churches have networked together to do are:
a. A warehouse of food, sleeping gear, hygiene items and other items.
b. A day shelter every day of the week in different churches.
c. A winter overnight shelter, held in different churches, or in one location but the volunteers come from
different churches.
d. A meal for every day of the week.
e. A shelter specifically for women or families, providing opportunities for job searching.

9. Finally, we need to remember that all ministry is about love. We can serve and give and even sacrifice, but if we do not actually love those we are serving, then we have done nothing. Sacrifice your heart, as well as your time and finances and space.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Mommy, What's an Anawim?"

This is an excerpt from  ACC's book: Anawim: Being a Big 'Ol Scary Biblical Theology Told Kindly Through Stories.  If you'd like a free pdf copy of the book, please contact us at  Or you can see the book published in sections at Anawim: A Biblical Theology Told In Stories

Are you an “anawim”? Take this quiz to find out:

1. You win the lottery and get a million dollars—what would you do with it?
a. Take a trip around the world
b. Pay off what you owe to others and give the rest away to those who also have needs.
c. Invest in your future
d. Get a big house for your family and a few others you know.

2.Would you ever find yourself homeless?
a. I’d never let myself get in such a position
b. Too late! I’ve already been there!
c. I try my best not to find myself that way
d. Who knows where God would lead me?

3. How important is money in your life?
a. How could anyone live without money?
b. Money is a useful tool, but I don’t really need it
c. I need more of it! Now!
d. I wish I didn’t need it, but it’s essential

4. How do you feel about our society?
a. The world has never failed me
b. I wish God would take it away and create a new one
c. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best society anyone could ask for
d. It is deeply wrong, but it can be fixed

5. How much suffering have you experienced?
a. I know what I’m doing—I’ve always avoided suffering
b. I’d love to start my life over
c. God’s always blessed me, I’ve never experienced that much suffering
d. I’ve had rocky roads, but God has helped me survive.

6. In times of difficulty, how would you describe your relationship to God?
a. God isn’t involved in my life.
b. I cry out to God until He helps me out.
c. I don’t pray much, but I know God is there.
d. I see God as my comfort.

7. What is the most important support in your life?
a. My regular check
b. My relationship with God
c. My family
d. My church

Answers at the end of this post.

We invent words all the time. Every sub-culture has its own vocabulary that no one else
understands. Some sub-culture words enter into the mainstream, such as “dis” or
“dysfunctional” or “anti-disestablishmentarianism”, but most words remain obscure to all but a
small segment of the population. English has the capacity of a million words, but we will
typically only use 20,000 on any kind of regular basis. Why so many words? We do this because
we have concepts that we use frequently, and so we invent new words (or import words from
other languages) that communicate succinctly what we want to say. After all, why say “the study
of the end times” every time that subject comes up, when you could just say “eschatology”?
(Which begs the question as to why the Russian language has reserved one of their most
difficult-to-pronounce words for “hello”).

In Hebrew there was an idea that was frequently used in Scripture, and supposedly in
everyday life, so that a new vocabulary word had to be invented. The idea went something like
this—“You see, there are these people, but they’re poor—or, well, most of them are
economically poor, but not all of them. Well, actually, they are rejected by modern society,
outcasts… well, not always outcast, but they aren’t in the mainstream, and they are looked down
on. And sometimes they’re just sick. Or attacked. Anyway, it seems like nobody likes them.
But they are righteous—um, well, righteous in a way, anyway. As a group they seem to sin a
lot—but they repent! Of their sin, that is. I mean, they really regret it and they do what they can
to stop the sin. But they pray a lot. Not to be holy, because these people aren’t holier-thanthou—
uh uh, no way. No, they pray because they need to ask God some pretty big requests.
Like for their basic survival. And to be delivered from their enemies. And for justice. And
instead of scrambling around working on every plan to get them out of their troubles—like that
would help, anyway—they depend on God. Yeah, that’s who they are.” That’s a mouthful.

So who are these folks, exactly? Let’s get organized:

A. They are vulnerable
They are in a place that they are exposed to difficulties. Perhaps they are a part of a social group
that is vulnerable, or they have chosen to expose themselves to a hard life. Whatever the case,
difficulties often come their way because they are unable to fully protect themselves.

B. They are oppressed
Because they are open to difficulties, there are some people who will take advantage of them.
So, at one point or another, the anawim experience theft, hatred, rejection, and sometimes

C. They have experienced poverty
They don’t have to be poor, even as the long-suffering Job was actually wealthy. But it is more
likely that the anawim will be poor, and they certainly have experienced poverty at one point or
another in their lives. The anawim don’t have to have a low income, but it is likely that they
don’t have much in their accounts at any given point.

D. They have experienced the failure of worldly systems
They, because of their vulnerable position, find themselves in a place where the world cannot
help them. The world doesn’t set up its system of help for these kinds of folks, and if the world
does help a little, it is not enough to pull them out of their difficulty. The anawim has found that
they can’t depend on their governments, their families or their religious groups.

E. They depend on God
Because the world can’t (or won’t) help them, they have found that the only one who will be
there for them is God. And God has truly been there for them. They have still suffered deeply,
but God has helped them survive in surprising ways.

F. They live for God
Out of gratitude, they try their best to live for God. They may not look or act like saints all the
time, but they are doing their best to live a right life before God. And because they have
experienced oppression and poverty, they will try to never cause another to experience such
things, but do their best to be merciful.

In sum, these folks are the poor or outcast who depend on God for their deliverance.
“Deliverance” doesn’t mean some spiritual transformation, but it means that you’re in trouble
and you need to get out of it. So the Hebrews had this idea, and because they didn’t like the
option of saying “outcast who depend on the Lord for deliverance” every time they used the
concept, they shortened it. The word is anawim. (This word will no longer be italicized for
convenience’s sake. My convenience, that is.)

We’re going to be talking about them for a while, here. But you probably already got that idea.
The word is used a lot in the Hebrew Scriptures. The root of it is used some 116
verses. It is translated as “poor” or “needy” or “afflicted”. And when the New Testament (in
Greek) uses the words “poor” or “meek” or “humble” they are referring to this concept. Forms
of these Greek words are used in the Greek Bible (Old and New Testaments) in some 329
verses.24 Anyway, you get the idea. It’s a busy word. This is no small idea in the Bible.
On occasion you might hear about this idea. In English theology you might hear the
phrase “righteous poor” flitting about. But it is never covered as a major theme in theology. Nor
is it often mentioned by preachers, teachers, Bible Schools and their ilk. They’d rather talk about
the other major words of the Bible, such as “grace” (277 verses OT and NT use that word),
“predestination” (6 verses), or, “Trinity” (0 verses). But Jesus used this concept quite frequently.
It was very important for his theology.

Let’s see the answers to the quiz!

If most of your answers are “a”:
You aren’t one of the Anawim at all. You are self-reliant, and it’s pretty much worked out for
you. However, God’s word warns that you will be heading for a fall—get ready for it!

If most of your answers are “b”:
You are Anawim! You have suffered much in your life and looked to God for help. Perhaps
sometimes He helped you, and sometimes He didn’t do as much as you wanted—But God’s
promise is that you will have another chance at life to make up for this sucky one!

If most of your answers are “c”:
You aren’t really anawim. You’ve had some difficulties in your life, perhaps, but not enough that
you’ve really had to desperately seek God. Again, difficulties will come—get your relationship
with God in a place that will prepare you for that coming trial!

If most of your answers are “d”:
You are really close to being anawim. You’ve had some difficulties, and you want to do what is
right before God. But God alone—not the church, not your job, not your family—is the answer
to the problems in your life. Depend only on Him and He will deliver you in times of trouble.