Last Summer we bonded as a church family around the Harvest and Gave away $103,000 to organizations in our community.

Now eight months later, we’re doing a three-part series highlighting the organizations we supported to find out how our efforts are making a difference. Part One is featuring Love Inc.  Part Two is this article you’re about to enjoy on the Eugene Mission.

It seems like at almost every stoplight and off-ramp there’s someone with a sign asking for money. In our city, homelessness has been a a longstanding challenge.

As Christians, what should we do?

It’s hard knowing if giving money to people actually helps, and so often we get stuck wondering and default to doing nothing.

Last summer, as a church we decided to do something. We knew we couldn’t fix homelessness, but we could do our part. Out of our Harvest offering, we gave $36,000 to the Eugene Mission.

Eight months later, we visited with Jack Tripp, the director of the Mission, and what we found was astounding.

Under Jack’s leadership, the Mission has transformed from a housing shelter to a wellness center. It might seem like a small shift, but changing the Mission from a place to stay and making it a place that people launch from is making a radical difference. They’ve intentionally focused their efforts on getting people healthy and graduated out of the Mission through the Life Change program

The Life Change program is a voluntary, two year process. Participants receive a mentor, attend a church, work a job, and live in separate housing designed for healthy accountability.

The cost of the two year course is $5,000 per person, and our Harvest efforts allowed the Mission opened up seven new spots in the program. Our gift was designated for veterans and already 3 people have entered the program. One of our students even got promoted at work!

“First Baptist is in the DNA of the Mission,” Jack Tripp said.

Jack said every day the people of First Baptist are quietly making a difference on the Mission’s campus. From hosting chapels, to pulling weeds and building relationships with guests, our church has been a long-standing support.

The Mission serves 22,000 meals every month on a budget of $1,500. When I asked Jack how they do it, he told story after story of how God constantly provides. In order to remain unwavering in their Gospel-centered approach, the Mission has avoided government funding and the work is completely provided from the community.

Jack Tripp and his team have a Jesus-fueled enthusiasm and a love for people that runs deep. Its clear that this kind of love often means firm boundaries. Before I left, I wanted the wisdom of an insider on one more question. How should Christians respond to homeless people on the corner? Is giving money a good thing?

Jack’s response was emphatic: Never, ever give money to people on the corner. He said giving money feels good to the giver, and is often well intentioned, but almost always contributes to destructive patterns and enables chronic homelessness. Instead, Jack called on Christians to give wisely in ways that will actually help people change.

Solving homelessness is a daunting task, but the Mission is quietly rebuilding people’s lives, one person at a time. Its exciting for our church to participate in tangible ways all through our city, for Jesus’ fame.