Non-Profit Organization to Benefit the Homeless and the Hungry
A few days ago, I received a call from a Christian Scientist in the Los Angeles, CA area (Claremont, to be exact), Bridgitte Hart, who is in the beginning stages of organizing a new charitable group dedicated to the feeding of the hungry and the housing of those living on the streets who are in immediate dire need. Her objective is to serve not just California, but the entire United States. She only happens to reside in California.
Contributions to get this project off the ground are requested. The immediate needs are to cover the legal costs of getting the organization formally and legally recognized, adding up to about $1000. This is a non-denominational project with a Christian Science foundation. Please contact me, and I will put you in direct contact with Bridgitte. A related website may be forthcoming, but is not yet in work.
The “Mission Statement” of the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE GOOD SAMARITAN INN TRANSITIONAL SHELTER is as follows:
Taking the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal life, we, as professed followers of Jesus Christ, endeavor to do the jobs he describes for us to do for the needy in Matthew 25 verses 34 to 46, namely, to house, feed, clothe, nurse and tend to those imprisoned by earthly conditions. As servants of God, we know that we serve Him only as we serve the needs of our fellow man. We are endeavoring to heal ourselves of our sins of omissions, and of our lack of mercy compassion love and charity. by overcoming these sins of omissions with good deeds, and by letting divine Love shine through us. As we do this,we are being transformed daily, and will awaken in Love’s image and likeness. As we express divine Love in these actions of love mercy and compassion, the healing of disease will surely follow.
Life Story of the Organizer and Founder
Bridgitte Hart, the organizer of this non-profit group, shares with us her touching life story, related below. Those interested in contributing to the success of her operation are asked to contact me. I promised Bridgitte that I would publish her history and the objectives of her organization.
I would like to share with you some ideas that have grown out of my life experience that I hope will be of help to the Christian Science movement.
I grew up in postwar Germany . My father was a soldier who never came back from the war and my mother was admitted to a facility for the mentally ill soon after. I lived in Berlin with my sisters and brother in a bombed out apartment building. My brother was around 8 at the time and did a heroic job of keeping the family together and alive, even though it was so cold in the winter and there was no glass on the windows. Many, many children and women were in the same situation as we were, and it took years for the authorities to be able to come to our aid. I and my twin sister were the youngest in the family.
My brother worked so hard just to provide us with bare necessities that I was often left alone. My mother had told us a little about Christianity before she was taken off to the facility. At times we were able to visit her there, but she never recognized us-. It made me wonder about God. Did He exist? One Christmas, when I was ten, while the city was still 80% destroyed from the war, snow was on the ground. It was bitterly cold and I was desperately lonely. Right there in that freezing apartment, I petitioned God to show Himself to me if He did exist. Immediately, the whole room started to glow with an immense Love which welled up within me. Tears of gratitude streamed down my face and I responded with: “May I be worthy to undo the sandals of Jesus.”
Though times continued to be terribly hard, nor did our mother ever seem to know us, during the next 20 years I never again felt such aloneness. Gradually, our brother found, first cardboard and then glass to put in the windows of the apartment and we had one small woodstove. Eventually, he got a job and then I got a job. While at my workplace one day, I found a Christian Science Herald. In it, I found the truth, reading the testimonies of healing. I thought, “This can heal my mother!” I found the name of a Christian Science practitioner who had gone underground during the Nazi era, when it was strictly forbidden to practice Christian Science. During the war, when even Bibles were sometime burned, Christian Science literature was forbidden. This practitioner had been visited by the Gestapo, who threatened to take him to prison if he did not heal them at once on the spot. They WERE healed and it frightened them so, that they fled from the office and he never saw them again.
The next time our mother came home by ambulance to visit us, though she still did not recognize us, I had the opportunity to take her to this practitioner. I was present when he addressed her. An atmosphere of light came into the room as he said to her, “You need to be an example for your children.” As they left the office, she said to me in a clear and lucid way, “That was a nice man.” Soon she was released from the asylum and remained in her right mind until her passing many years later.
I began to read Science and Health, emigrated to Canada, became a Mother Church member and took class instruction and began nurse’s training. I had married, and when I came home from taking class, I was so inspired that my husband, who was on crutches from an injury, was healed through my prayers. Others were healed too. I joined a First Church, Montreal and was a member for 15 years there.
After 11 years of marriage, my husband wanted children and we had none, so we were divorced. I had very little after the divorce, but a car and some necessities. Again, the bitterly cold Montreal winter was no place to live in a car. Because I was on the church Board, I knew the church had no benevolence fund or charitable services installed. I served as Reading Room librarian, but did not know my fellow members well enough to ask them to take me in, and no one offered. We only saw each other during church meetings and services.
When the temperature fell to 40 below, I turned to the Salvation Army for housing and warmth and feel that they saved my life. They had a shelter with warm and welcoming meals and a chapel that I could pray in.
From there, I began an itinerant life working in low wage jobs and never having a home of my own. I have met many homeless people and come to see that not all of them are “undeserving”. My life experience has made me long for a Christian Science organization that welcomes the poor and stranger and a mechanism in the Christian Science movement that allows its members to reach out as Jesus demanded us to do:
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matt. 25:35-40.
I have watched the homeless population grow immensely and see the need both in this population, but also the need in the churches for more outreaching activities. Mrs. Eddy wrote,
“If the soft palm, upturned to a lordly salary, and architectural skill, making dome and spire tremulous with beauty, turn the poor and the stranger from the gate, they at the same time shut the door on progress.” SH 142:11-15
I feel we should have put into place long ago some kind of structure that would allow us to minister to those sick, homeless and needy who really are seekers and need a hand up. I feel that the lack of having done so could be one reason why so many Christian Science churches are now closing. They truly did shut the door on progress. Some, like me, could have benefited so by having a Christian Science atmosphere to surround me as I got back on my feet. Others have never heard of Christian Science, but are so ripe and ready for its blessings. But it is very hard to study and learn when you haven’t got a safe and warm and dry and light place to live.
In the days when I first looked around for such a place, there were many wealthy Christian Scientists who could help start such an organization: a Christian Science Good Samaritan home. Nowadays, it is harder to find such members, but still the need is greater than it has ever been. Those churches that still have their doors open, are you ministering to the needy in your communities? If so, you are obeying Mrs. Eddy’s demand. Telling the wanderers, as I heard so many times, “Keep praying. It will get better,” is not enough.
Jesus’ included in his demands on Christians that we should love our neighbor as ourself. He told the consequences of not doing so in Matt 25:34-46. But he also gave a beloved parable about the Good Samaritan that shows us how and who we should serve. Sometimes we must go where the need is and do the hands on job of binding up the wounds and caring for our neighbor–who is anyone we encounter. You will notice that not only the fleshly ills were nursed by the Samaritan, but as the man was robbed, his economic ills were addressed when the Samaritan paid to shelter and care for the wounded man until he recovered.
Today, we are in a period of widespread economic unease. Charitableness is the job description of the Christian, according to Jesus. Will the Christian Science movement finally step up to its Christian obligation and provide a place for us to minister to needy people with Christian Science, instead of turning them down the street to the Salvation Army or some other organization?
Economic malaise in many communities has increased steadily in my travels. Many are without jobs and losing homes. Christian Science has so much to offer these people, some of whom are weary wanderers athirst in the desert. Not everyone will want what Christian Science has to offer, but many more do than are getting the opportunity to find it.
In We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, our Leader says, “If Christian Scientists are not aware of the need of the hour, Christian Science will again disappear under the rubble of the ages.” The need of the hour is to open our doors and our hearts to the poor and needy, not turn them away at the gate.
The Christian Science Monitor estimated that there are at least 642,000 homeless individuals in this country. Many of them live on cardboard boxes. Many are women. Many have children. 1 in five children in this country don’t get enough to eat.
As a foreigner and a woman, I know how difficult it is for women in this situation. Shelters are full of men with few places for women. Not all of them have substance abuse problems. They are just poor.
I believe that my life experience has prepared me to be able to minister to people in these situations. I often speak to homeless people and share my copies of Science and Health with them. But I long to have a Christian Science Good Samaritan Home to give these people a place to live and discover the Comforter for themselves.
I have developed and registered a “Non- Profit Organization” to begin the acquisition of such a home. I hope to provide a model for all Christian Science churches to have such an outreach plan for those needy in their own communities.
At this time I am applying to become a non-profit organization. All of this takes funding and I live on a fixed income. If this story has touches a chord with you, I hope you will contribute something to this organization–one I think should have been put in place long ago. It is one I believe Jesus calls us to do and Mrs. Eddy saw the need for. I hope also that you will consider opening the doors of your churches to help the many who are in need in your own communities.