Late, last Thursday afternoon (May 4th), I was contacted by a friend of a friend to see if our church’s community center could be used the next day (Friday, May 5th) for a press conference about the negative effects the new healthcare plan could have on people in poverty and with pre-existing conditions. I agreed, and so plans were put together. On Friday morning, I was contacted again and asked if I could take 2-4 minutes and talk about poverty in our city. I agreed to do so. Below is the statement I made and read about poverty in Franklin, TN.
We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.
Yet, within our city limits, you will find pockets of extreme poverty.
We have homelessness, but no shelter.
Crime, but no half-way house.
Addictions, but no long-term, inpatient treatment center.
Poverty, but very few low-income housing options.
The median price of a home in our city costs upwards of $500,000.
The median rent is approaching $1,500 per month.
Yet, in our city, 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry.
Over 300 of our children, in our public schools, are homeless.
Families live in cars, in make-shift shacks,
and in run-down buildings controlled by abusive landlords.
Every social agency I work and serve with
will tell you poverty exists in our pristine city,
and it is getting worse, not better.
Every police officer will tell you they are seeing
more and more people experiencing homelessness
roaming our streets.
Middle Tennessee is also the home of more mega-churches
per capita than anywhere else in the country.
We can do better than this.
We must do better than this!
Listen to the words of Jesus from Matthew 25:31-40:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit on his glorious throne.
All the nations will be gathered before him,
and he will separate the people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats…
“Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance,
the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
We can do better!
We must do better!