How to Help the Homeless

4 Ways to Help the Homeless in Your Community

Volunteers at a soup kitchen
Rather than going on your own, join an organization to help the homeless. This maximizes your efforts. Jose Luis Pelaez/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

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 ... (Matthew 25:35, NIV)

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty currently estimates that more than 3.5 million people in America (some 2 million of them children), were likely to experience homelessness in a given year. While difficult to measure, the increase in the demand for shelter beds each year is a strong indicator that homelessness is on the rise, and not only in America. According to the United Nations, there are at least 100 million homeless in the world today.

While on a short-term mission trip to Brazil, the plight of the street children captured our heart. We soon returned to Brazil as a full-time missionary with my focus on the inner city gangs of children. For four years we lived and worked with a team from our local church in Rio de Janeiro, volunteering in established ministries. Although our mission was geared toward children, we learned a lot about helping the homeless, no matter the age.

How to Help the Homeless

If your heart has been gripped by the needs of the hungry, thirsty, strangers on the streets, here are four effective ways to help the homeless in your community.


The most productive way to get started helping the homeless is to join forces with a well-established operation. As a volunteer, you will learn from those who are already making a difference, rather than repeating the mistakes of well-meaning but misguided novices. By receiving "on the job" training, our team in Brazil was able to experience the rewards of accomplishment right away.

A good place to start volunteering is at your local church. If your congregation doesn't have a homeless ministry, find a reputable organization in your city and invite church members to join you and your family in serving.


One of the best ways to help a homeless person is to show them respect. As you look into their eyes, talk to them with genuine interest, and recognize their value as an individual, you will give them a sense of dignity that they rarely experience.

My most memorable times in Brazil were the all-night stays on the streets with gangs of children. We did this once a month for a while, offering medical treatment, haircuts, friendship, encouragement, and prayer. We didn't have a rigid structure on those nights. We just went out and spent time with the children. We talked to them; we held their street-born babies; we brought them a hot supper. By doing this we gained their trust.

Remarkably, these kids became protective of us, warning us during the day if they detected any dangers on the streets. One day while walking through the city, a boy we had gotten to know stopped us and told us to quit wearing my particular kind of watch on the streets. He showed me how easily a thief could snatch it from my arm, and then he suggested a better, more secure type of watchband to wear.

While it's wise to exercise caution and take measures to ensure your personal safety when ministering to the homeless, by identifying with the real person behind the face on the streets, your ministry will be much more effective and rewarding. Learn additional ways to help the homeless:


Giving is another great way to help, however, unless the Lord directs you, don't give money directly to the homeless. Cash gifts are often used to buy drugs and alcohol. Instead, make your donations to a well-known, reputable organization in your community. Many shelters and soup kitchens also welcome contributions of food, clothing and other supplies.


Lastly, prayer is one of the easiest and most positive ways you can help the homeless.

Because of the harshness of their lives, many homeless people are crushed in spirit. But Psalm 34:17-18 says, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV) God can use your prayers to bring deliverance and healing to broken lives.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "How to Help the Homeless." Learn Religions, Sep. 15, 2021, Fairchild, Mary. (2021, September 15). How to Help the Homeless. Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "How to Help the Homeless." Learn Religions. (accessed March 25, 2023).