Joy Junction CEO Says Neither Presidential Party Serious about Attacking the Issue of Homelessness

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The Founder and CEO of New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter contends that regardless of who wins the presidential nomination that nothing will change for the homeless. The answer, he says, is found outside the political arena.

More specifically, the solution for our nation's burgeoning homeless population is for the homeless to have all of the help and professional services they need, but cemented together by a relationship with Jesus. He is the only one Who can give us the ability to successfully face life and navigate the myriad of problems and hurts which we all experience every day.

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Unless readers opt to live in a cave, they'll hear more and more coverage of the upcoming presidential election as the next few weeks unfold.

Joy Junction Homeless Shelter Founder and CEO Dr. Jeremy Reynalds said all the endless chatter boils down to this; both presidential candidates making endless promises saying they have the answers to the woes being faced by our nation.

Reynalds said it's not surprising that with many Americans scarcely able to survive from one mortgage or rental payment to the next, polls say the economy is the issue uppermost on voters minds. He contended that whichever candidate manages to make the most overall appealing pitch to the electorate's shrinking pocketbook will probably be the one who ends up in the White House.

Reynalds said while that may sound cynical, he isn't discouraging Christians being politically involved. He said he just hopes that people will really begin to realize the ultimate answer doesn't lie in the political system.

Reynalds said social activist Shane Claiborne, co-author of the book "Jesus for President," would agree with his thinking. He said in a news release, "The church has fallen in love with the state, and this love affair is killing the church's imagination. Too often the patriotic values of pride and strength triumph over the spiritual virtues of humility, gentleness and sacrificial love."

Claiborne said that Christian discipleship is politically and social engaged, but in a way that transcends parties. He commented, "It's easy to have political views--that's what politicians do. But it's much harder to embody a political alternative--that's what saints do."

So which presidential candidate would most benefit the homeless, and the ever-increasing number of people who are teetering on the precipice of homelessness?

Reynalds said neither of them would, as both of the parties they represent portray human effort and endeavor as the answer to homelessness.

According to Reynalds, as a rule, conservatives say that with human effort and God's blessing, achievement of the American dream is still possible. But he said there can be a tragic consequence when you take that philosophy to its logical conclusion.

When someone receives help that in some circumstances could enable them to get back on their feet again but they fail to achieve success, then their plight is often blamed on laziness or an unwillingness to "do what it takes."

Reynalds said, there can be a tendency to say, "I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps, and so can they." However, I have come to realize after years of formerly espousing that same philosophy myself, that such a mind set allows society an "easy out." People who make such statements many times feel justified in their lack of non-involvement in a person's tragic situation.

Reynalds added, "This was exemplified to me a few months ago while in a store. I was talking to the clerk, and we saw a person he identified as homeless pass by outside. The clerk looked at him briefly and said to me, 'That guy's been homeless for 10 years. It's obvious he wants to be homeless.'"

Reynalds said that he immediately looked at the clerk and said, "Excuse me? He WANTS to be homeless? No one WANTS to be homeless, even though it may appear that way. We need to look at experiences, such as physical abuse and emotional trauma the man may have encountered, that have resulted in his long term homelessness."

Reynalds said the clerk looked surprised. "It was evident he hadn't thought of that," he said. "While we'd like to think that a meal, a few Bible verses and a place to stay can provide a quick fix for the issue of poverty and homelessness, for the most part it's not as easy as that."

Reynalds said that it was a long and painful road that many Joy Junction guests endured before they came to stay at the shelter. While some can nonetheless get back on their feet again pretty easily and in a relatively short time, for others the journey will be much longer. That necessary time frame is rushed at the emotional and psychological peril of those whom we help.

Reynalds said that showing the love and patience of Jesus Christ to all shelter guests, and letting Him begin to heal their broken hearts in His time, is a key component in the recovery model used at Joy Junction.

On the other side of the spectrum, many liberals say with human effort, and by throwing lots of (government) money at the problem, that the issue of homelessness can be solved.

Reynalds said, "Over the years I've seen much material which attributes homelessness almost purely to a lack of affordable housing. While that may be the issue in some cases, it is far from universally true."

He said that homelessness as such is not the problem. Homelessness is usually the result of a variety of other issues, which include alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. We won't solve those problems by building more affordable housing.

"All we'll do is take people with seriously debilitating issues," Reynalds said, "and give them a place to stay without dealing with the problems that caused their homelessness in the first place."

Reynalds said that individuals who start using alcohol and drugs routinely do so as a result of emotional and psychological wounds and scars that are bottled up and not dealt with. There is an inability to face reality, and an understandable desire to escape into a drug or alcohol-induced stupor.

So if both conservatism and liberalism are wrong, what is the answer?

Reynalds said he knows the solution. "It is found in a Jesus-based position, and a realization that the Lord has called us to be the visible representation of His love here on earth. Our culture is changed one heart at a time, not with the changing of presidents and political parties."

He added, "More specifically, the solution for our nation's burgeoning homeless population is for the homeless to have all of the help and professional services they need, but cemented together by a relationship with Jesus. He is the only one Who can give us the ability to successfully face life and navigate the myriad of problems and hurts which we all experience every day."

For more information about the book "Jesus for President," go to http://www.jesusforpresident.org.
To learn more about Joy Junction go to http://www.joyjunction.org. To learn more about Reynalds' perspectives on the issue of homelessness, go to http://www.homelessbook.com

Contact Joy Junction Homeless Shelter Founder and CEO Dr. Jeremy Reynalds at (505) 400 7145
or by e-mail at jeremyreynalds(at)comcast.net

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