By Gem of the Sound Staff Writer
The City of Burien is clearing the tents next to City Hall and Library on March 31, 2023. The best estimate is that there will be 14 tents and a total of 30 campers in the group. The problem is, there needs to be a place for these people to go. Plenty of beds are available for the homeless but require individuals to come in clean, not currently high or intoxicated.
This requirement points to the need for a 72-hour detox center where those that are willing can be cared for while they come down off their drug-induced “high,” a very difficult process. Once sober and no longer under the influence of drugs, the user can make a decision to go into a place of long-term care and healing, or go back on the streets.
Providing a safe and effective place for detox is not easy, but 4 churches and 3 faith-based nonprofits have stepped up to address the need. These Burien churches and outside organizations are partnering to run a 72-hour detox center from March 31 to April 3 to meet this immediate flux of homeless. All campers at the City Hall site or other places in Burien who want to take the first step to healing are welcome.
All of this started when Martin Barrett, who attends Hope Christian, received word confirming that the city intended to carry out its responsibility to clear the tents even though they had no solution for where the campers would go. “It is the right decision but also puts everyone in a no-win bind. With the city stepping up, Barrett thought that this presented a great opportunity for the Church to step into the need”, said Barrett.
Barrett brought it to the attention of Hope Christian Community Church Pastor Seth Thomas, believing that this was a critical need for those in the tents and the city (a need that the church was uniquely qualified to meet. ) Thomas jumped on it. Thomas called his church leaders and shared the opportunity. Even though there were many questions and unknowns, leadership felt compelled to engage and agreed to fund the entire endeavor, seeking no city funds. Immediately gears began to churn. Barrett called contacts from around the region who understood what a detox center required. Thomas began talking with other pastors.
Thomas also brought in Joseph Riverson, a member at Hope. Over the last 3 months, a group of Hope people, led by Riverson, have been going out several times a week to talk with and build relationships with those on the street. Riverson has been engaged in work with the homeless population for several years. “From the consistent engagement with our homeless neighbors in the tents, a trusting environment has been built where they share their stories, journeys, and hopes from a first-name basis engagement. We call them friends, and the feeling is
mutual “, said Riverson.
“We want to engage with this issue in our city directly, yet doing it differently than most. We will be building off the two most important, yet often overlooked components of breaking addictions and the cycle of homelessness: #1- The Spirit of God who brings life and breaks chains of spiritual bondage often involved with trauma and addiction. #2- A Christ-centered community to walk with them through detox and deliverance as well as into ongoing discipleship programs such as UGM, Teen Challenge, or Praisealujah”, Thomas communicated to his people.
When Thomas shared the opportunity, Deeper Church, Highline Christian, and Taproot Church joined the effort. Each will be providing manpower and constant prayer. The other organizations bring a deep bench of experience in the detox process.
Hope Christian will be hosting those that choose to come. “We have converted our building into a site to house all who want to come. We have brought in beds. We have a hygiene truck, a medical truck, staff, security, and sanitation facilities. We have folks providing nutrition-dense food. We have new clothes for them. We will separate the women from the men for safety, except for those that were a couple prior and want to be together. We want it safe for the women”, according to Thomas.
This week the team of churches will be at the site daily, talking with them and building trust. ” People (all people) will not follow someone they don’t trust. We want them to know we love them and care for them, and desire for them to experience the life they were created to live “, said Thomas.
“This is an opportunity to live out our faith in a very real and tangible way. We can serve the city and those who are broken. We know that this will be a growing and stretching experience. We may not succeed. But the love of Jesus compels us to take the risk and care for these folks “, said Thomas.