Thanksgiving Letter to the Homeless | 2017

Larry Rice’s Letter to the Homeless on Thanksgiving Day as they celebrate Thanksgiving together on Locust Street between 14th & 15th This Thanksgiving we are celebrating our 45th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner on the streets because we are homeless like many […]

Larry Rice’s Letter to the Homeless on Thanksgiving Day
as they celebrate Thanksgiving together on Locust Street between 14th & 15th

This Thanksgiving we are celebrating our 45th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner on the streets because we are homeless like many of you.  As you know, New Life Evangelistic Center has been driven from its home at 1411 Locust because of gentrification.

Gentrification is such a wicked thing – Amos, Micah, Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets spoke out against it.  Gentrification is progressing at the expense of the poor and homeless.  The wickedness of gentrification can be clearly seen at 1411 Locust.  A five-story building is forced to remain closed as homeless people wander the streets all night in search of a place to sleep.

Despite the efforts of the wicked, who masquerade themselves as nice people, the NLEC team continues to move forward on reopening the 1411 Locust building.  The latest obstacle has been the rejection of our architectural plans calling the provision of showers a “public bathhouse” and requiring signatures from neighbors of 1411 Locust.  Despite such obstacles, NLEC has met all plumbing and electrical requirements at 1411 Locust.  The old fire escape has been removed and a sprinkler system in the worship studio is being installed.

As progress is being made to reopen 1411 Locust, our teams of NLEC workers are on the streets daily, working to relieve the suffering that the gentrification in St. Louis has produced.  The closing of 1411 Locust and the destruction of affordable housing make this job more difficult with each passing day, but we will not give up.

Our efforts in addition to reopening 1411 Locust include involving the unsheltered homeless in various NLEC training programs, transitional and permanent housing.

Our legal team will continue to work to stop those who put profits over people through gentrification in the name of economic development.  We will continue to provide hundreds of bus tickets each week, warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, and food.  We will, by the grace of God, do whatever it takes to help the poor and homeless survive at this time of cold weather and cold-hearted gentrification.  After all, the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas said, “As often as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

We will not let those gripped by a greed that leaves the homeless on the streets, destroy our Thanksgiving.  As we work to see that everyone has a warm place to sleep at night, we will join the prophet Habakkuk who said that even if everything seems to go wrong, “I’m singing joyful praise to God.  I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.  Counting on God’s rule to prevail.  I take heart and gain strength” (Hab. 3:17, 18 The Message Bible). 

Even though we are going through times of trials and tribulations lets celebrate Thanksgiving. There is hope.  Christ is Risen.

Now, may the peace of God work in each of us as we move forward courageously through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit against the forces of gentrification, knowing the hope that is ours through the Risen Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Larry Rice

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