Homeless, Hungry & Alone… chapter 10 (the final chapter)

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Homeless, Hungry & Alone...
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Chapter 10

Fast – Day 21

As the end of the fast quickly approaches, my body, mind and spirit have definitely shown signs of fatigue.  Specifically, I’ve had a difficult time focusing – praying, reading, thinking, etc.  Not only has the fast caused this, but I also noticed that the times I’ve spent sitting in my tent (and it’s been very cold), I’ve had a difficulty focusing on praying, reading and thinking.  I’ve realized that I have received a ‘taste’ of what its like to be without shelter, food and cold.  I can see how these needs not being met in a person’s life would cause them to struggle focusing and/or developing the spiritual part of themselves – ie. their relationship with Jesus and walking it out.  This made me think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – developed in 1943 by Abraham Maslow.  His theory was that every person had levels or an order to the importance of their basic needs.  Typically, we all have our needs met in a specific order and unless those needs at the ‘base’ of our ‘need pyramid’ are met first, we will struggle with gaining ‘victory’ with those needs at the top of our ‘pyramid’.  I know – kinda heavy!!  But, I think not only is this cool, but it makes sense and has definite life application when it comes to meeting the needs of the homeless.  The Maslow Hierarchy of Needs order goes like this (from ‘base’ needs on up):

Physiological Needs – air/breathing, food, water, sleep, health, etc.

Safety & Security – of self, family, income/job, etc.

Love & Belonging (Social) – family, relationships, sexual intimacy

Esteem – self esteem, confidence, respect, achievement

Self Actualization – morality, spirituality, “who am I”

In a nutshell, a person’s most important personal needs are air, food, water, sleep, etc.  Until these needs are met, a person will struggle with focusing on the next step of needs which is Safety and Security, etc.  Looking at these from a biblical, spiritual or ministry perspective, I am left thinking about ministering to people in need – the poor, homeless, hurting, etc.  This makes me wonder if this was one of the main reasons why during Jesus’ ministry here on earth, he spent much of his time meeting people’s basic needs at the same time he was preaching the Kingdom of Heaven and challenging people to think differently.  Many of the miracles he performed had to do with people’s basic needs:

Food – feeding the 5,000 & the 4,000

Water – turning water into wine

Health – many miracles of healing

Jesus knew that meeting these basic needs would be critical in order for people’s other needs to be met; specifically their spirituality.

Also, the early church followed this example as well as described through out the book of Acts, where they took care of the poor, the widows, orphans, etc.  Hmmm – interesting thought!


Tonight, I made the decision to not sleep in my sleeping bag, but rather to sleep in my tent but ‘outside’ my sleeping bag.  I wanted to experience what it was like not to have a warm place to snuggle into.  So, here I am, it’s 1am and I can’t sleep.  I did lay down about 10:30p.  As I laid down on top of my blankets, I immediately felt lonely, vulnerable, exposed and a cold that was difficult to shake.  I found myself trying to bury my face and curl up in the fetal position to try and keep warm – it seemed impossible – frustrating because I am so tired! It is amazing how much ‘protection’ and ‘security’ a blanket or sleeping bag can give a person.  I’ve been sipping on hot vegetable broth my wife made – helping to warm me up on the inside.  I will try and lay down again.

It’s now 4:30am and I am sitting in the parking lot at Shari’s – trying to tap into some wireless internet.  I woke up again at 4am – cold.  My toes were very cold and aching.  I couldn’t stop shivering despite my two layers of pants, five layers of shirts/coats, three head coverings and gloves.  It’s been six hours trying to sleep like this – not happening.  I check my phone and it’s 33F.  The first thing that comes to me as the fog in my mind tried to clear is to get in my car and go for a drive – praying around Richland – for people, churches, businesses, government, etc.  Sounds like a wonderful idea – and warmth too!!  As I am getting ready to do this, pictures come to mind of people that I’ve seen over the years sleeping on the streets in doorways, on benches, in dumpsters – curled up in newspapers, cardboard… whatever they can to try and stay warm and alive.  Sadly to say, there have been many homeless that I’ve let go on by.  Yes, I know I can’t ‘save’ everyone, but I know there is definitely more that I could have/can do – maybe a warm blanket or something warm to drink.  After these nine days of sleeping out in the cold and experiencing the mental, emotional and physical challenges that come with ‘living outside’, would I or could I just walk on by now?   I don’t think so.  I would feel compelled to do what I could.  I now have a deeper and stronger compassion and empathy for those living on the streets with no shelter, no food, no security, no love and no sense of belonging or value.  No, I don’t think I could just walk on by.

I thank the Lord for this time of fasting, praying and being a part of Raise Your Tents.  These last 21 days have been a spiritual adventure I will never forget.  I realize that going the last 19 of those 21 days without any food – only water and juice and being able to properly function (work, family, etc.) has only been by God’s grace.  Thank you Jesus!

As for all of you who have been reading these blogs and sharing this adventure with me – I thank you for taking the time!  My hope and prayer is that some of the things that I’ve learned through out this adventure also resonated within yourself as well.  Some of you have been giving me some feedback along the way – thank you!  I really enjoy hearing from my readers – what’s ‘grabbing’ you, additional/personal insight on these experiences, your own stories, questions, etc.  I tried to write in such a way that would stir your senses  – hoping to help you ‘feel’ at least a bit of what I was experiencing. 

I would love to hear from you – what you thought, your own feelings on homelessness, maybe some personal stories, etc.  You can reply back at the end of each blog.

In closing, I know that this is not the end – this door is just not closing – end of story.  This adventure will continue to produce ‘fruit’ for a very long time! I will post new blogs as the ‘fruit’ comes. And who knows what God has in store for the next adventure!  Please check in to ‘Reloaded’ often as I regularly post new videos and blogs.  If you like ‘Reloaded’, I would encourage you to subscribe to the blog – bottom left of home page.  You will automatically receive any new posts and blogs through your email.  Again, thank you for joining me on this amazing adventure!

You must persevere, so that when you’ve done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.  Hebrews 10:36

  1. Rhonda says:

    Your Homeless, Hungry & Alone has greatly touched my heart. God has been showing me are churches ready for the homeless, suicidal, smelly, drunk, street people to come to their church? I hear so much when I am greeted, How are you doing? Do people really want to know, do we make eye contact? God has spoken to my heart to really care when you ask how are you doing. Make eye contact with the person and see what is there, don’t just walk away because you are too busy.
    I really believe Brian was doing what Jesus would have, he was not in a church but out on the streets. We need to be Jesus with skin on it.
    Blessings to you,

    • brian hetzer says:

      Thank you Rhonda – yes, it’s amazing how we can be so ‘flippant’ with comments for usual greeting toward others… like “how are you doing?”… but do we really want to know? Good question/observation Rhonda! Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us make first judgements of people on what they look like on the outside. So, if someone comes into the church looking grubby, dirty or scroungy, we make the assumption that they are a ‘bum’ and then we react accordingly… which usually isn’t always in love. Makes me think of a verse out of Proverbs 17:14 I believe… Those who make fun of or mock the poor insult their Maker.

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