Tonight I got a call asking for help in finding a shelter for a homeless woman and her two children. A church member had run in to her at the store, and offered to help her out. She took her home, and gave her and her children something to eat, but needed help in finding them a place to stay tonight. I had recently been given a list of contact information for the shelters in our area. So I took my counselor with me and we went to meet with this woman. She is a 23 year old young mother with two small boys, and is 5 weeks pregnant. She left an abusive husband a few days ago, and has been trying to find a place to stay ever since.
Unfortunately, all of the shelters were full. She tried every number that I could give her but had no luck in finding a place to stay tonight. Even some of the crisis lines gave her more numbers to call, but none were fruitful. Either we have way too many women in crisis, or way too few shelters.
I have to say that I was in a pickle about what to do. On one hand, I thought I could let her stay in my home. But part of me kept thinking that it might not be the safest decision. I did take in an abused woman once, and felt confident that we would be safe because he didn't know me, and didn't know where I lived. But in the middle of the night she called him! This is the nature of abused women. So with this girl, I had no guarantee that she wouldn't call him in the middle of the night and tell him where she was. But on the other hand, I couldn't turn her and her two little boys out to sleep on the streets. I even contemplated renting them a motel room, but was worried about what would happen if they damaged the property, or stole something. I would be held accountable because it would be in my name. See....I really thought out a lot of different scenarios. In the end, I made the decision that if we didn't find something else, I would bring her home with me. I prayed and told God that, so I knew that if there were another option, He would help us to find it.
As we were waiting with her while she made phone calls, I had the thought to ask her if she had any friends or family in the area. In our church, we typically follow this pattern when helping people with welfare needs. We ask if they have any family that could help out. When I asked her, she said she did have a friend that she spent the night with last night, but that she didn't have her phone number because her cell phone was dead. I told her that I would drive her to her house to see if they could stay for the night.
We had to drive to a very scary neighborhood in a neighboring city. When we got to the house, no one answered the door. We knocked and knocked, but there was no answer. Finally I saw one of her neighbors and asked him if he had her phone number. He tried calling her, but she didn't answer. But he said, "Just knock on her window, but knock really loud!" This woman we were helping was knocking, but I could tell it was too quiet. I stepped up and gave it a good "missionary" knock that was very loud, and we finally got an answer! Thankfully, the friend said they could stay for the night. I encouraged this girl to call her father and ask for his help in the future.
I'm sure glad God provided another way tonight, because I really wasn't sure if bringing her home was a wise decision, but I couldn't do anything else.