America, the HOME of the Brave?

As a Ghanaian, I was extremely ready for moving to the United States of America. I wondered if the movies I had seen on TV had done justice to what my first-hand experience was going to be like. I was super excited for this new phase of my life and couldn’t wait to get into this brave new world. Since arriving on American soil – the land of the free and home of the brave – my experiences have been life-shaping.

“Service to humankind is service to God.” Many years ago I aimed to live by this proverb. In addition to the worship we render as Christians, our deeds towards nature and our fellow sisters and brothers speak volumes of who we truly are. I have always felt an urgent need to serve in any space I find myself. It was by God’s doing that through a great friend I was introduced to The Good Neighbor Movement. Through this church, I have been able to show and receive love even in the darkest of times. I have been able to express myself and been embraced with my flaws just as God the Father does. It was through this church I was exposed to the Homeless Union of Greensboro (HU). On Facebook, this group is described as “people experiencing homelessness and poverty and are building towards a world where their needs are met.”

On Saturday, June 9, 2018, the HU embarked on a survey project to collect the perspectives and stories of our homeless sisters and brothers with regards to the treatment they receive from local police. Though sunny, the interviewees’ powerful stories shadowed the rays of sun striking down on my skin—the truth was too vivid to be ignored. On one interview with an elderly participant, I was heard such palpable sincerity, brokenness and frustration. This elderly man broke down in tears, recounting the many times he had been abused by the police just for being homeless. He mentioned that he had been arrested over 50 times due to his lack of secure and stable shelter. Since he had no bail money, he had to always spend about 5 days or so behind bars, When he was released, he found himself going through this experience over and over again. It felt like a repetitive cycle. Another woman talked about the trauma she faced when she was 16, the day the police threw her down to the ground like an animal. The survey reminded her of that day. She is flourishing in age but the scars on her face and her body are a constant reminder of the pain she once went through.

The experience listening to homeless brothers and sisters impacted me deeply. I was moved almost to tears. As the Bible urges us to be our neighbors’ keeper, I urge anyone reading this to take time out of their week to care for, love, listen to, and stand with our homeless brothers and sisters. As I grapple with the state of homelessness in Greensboro, and what my faith calls me to do and be, I am driven to ask: what happened to these US citizens who fall below the economic margins? If this country is home to the brave, where are their homes?