Awareness of lives lived in poverty reached new lows for me when we visited a Men's Crisis Centre. The conditions there blew me away. Did people really live like this?
Overcrowded squalor... crumbling walls, windows and furniture yet as tidy as a shabby collection of bare essentials could possibly be. The people who live in the asbestos roofed, ex police cell building have next to nothing. On the wall next to one of the lower bunk beds, crammed into a tightly packed room that accommodated 4 grown men, was just one item, a lone photograph. I was sad that whoever slept here had nothing more. The kitchen, that caters for 28 residents plus others, is just over a metre wide with an old metal sink and a few cupboards that could not be less than 70 years young. There is just one shower and toilet, so deteriorated, it would be impossible to clean. It was shocking and heartbreaking to see so many living in an environment like this.
However, for the men who come to stay in this humble building, it is the place where they meet God. In the centre of the small main meeting room (one of the dorms containing 6 old metal bunk beds), is an old round table with Bibles and a candle. The table represents that the centre of their recovery (from alcohol, drugs and other destructive lifestyles) is learning to have hope in Jesus. Through daily study the men here learn that wealth is not in possessions, money or status but in the riches waiting for them in heaven!
Remarkably, this bunch of recovering addicts, homeless, disabled and elderly men who have nothing, still manage to GIVE! Twice every week they prepare a large pot of soup and plenty of tea and cater for the homeless and extremely poor in their local area; once a week, taking soup out into the town and once a week, people are invited to the centre - it was on this occasion we were also invited.
Roughly 14 people stood around plastic tables on a gritty driveway, it's really no banquet but the locals are so appreciative of the food to fill their stomachs a well as the company and community the Men's Centre affords them.
Visiting this centre really was reality check to the rest of us who have so much in our lives - most of which we don’t actually need. At this stage the men's centre need help with the basics; food, clothes, shoes, bedding, kitchen equipment... If you would like to contribute to the funds that will help us supply such items, please donate an amount of your choice here. Thank you.