I passed the office twice before I could find it, finally pulling over and firing up the GPS on my phone. It took circling the block past Hope Rescue Mission and down the historic section of 5th street. I parked between a pile of black trash bags waiting for pickup and a section of road construction, jogged across the street, and entered the lobby for Family Promise of Berks County.
Family Promise started almost thirty years ago in New York in an effort to help a growing crowd of elderly homeless individuals. It spread to other states and territories, offering services for the elderly, families, and individuals. The office in Reading handles around two hundred applications a year for their intensive 90 day program.
I followed a family through the entrance and up the winding staircase, meeting Gwendolyn Didden, director of the Reading office. Didden has worked in the non-profit world for twenty-five years. She brings a unique mix of social science, experience, and faith into the mix.
We spoke for almost two hours about poverty, homelessness, healing, and spiritual sickness. Many of Didden’s statements stuck with me. She said:
“World systems are flawed, but God’s systems are flawless.”
We often view those that suffer as outliers. The homeless, addicted, mentally ill, and poor fall outside the lines. Suffering equals personal failure. If you are going through something bad, it reflects your faults. What if our systems are flawed? What if we can only survive through the selfless love and support of others? What if we put our faith in a government that can’t get it right?
The more you think about it, the more it makes sense.
What if the problem is one of the soul?
I believe in change. Cities can change. Families can change. Marriages can change. Souls can change. There is hope. The shackles of poverty, homelessness, conflict, and strife can end. The process isn’t easy or quick. It isn’t immediate.
It is real, when we believe.
As a reminder, you can get my e-book: Your First Step for FREE at the following link:
Check it out and share with anyone needing some hope in their life.