Homeless people often knock on the doors of churches. Instinctively they turn to the Church, which still represents a space of safety and warmth. Many churches struggle to know how to respond to them and sometimes resort to pointing them to the council. We see a time when that is reversed. We see councils beginning to point the homeless to the churches. We see churches all over the country responding openly, as they have heard Jesus say, ‘They do not need to go away,’(Matthew 14:16) and have seen that providing the poor wanderer with shelter is a part of worship. A home in every community, supported by a church. That is our vision. 

We’re nowhere near finished 

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens 

can change the world;

indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ 

Margaret Mead 


About two months before we opened our first home, Rach suggested I take a day off for a retreat. I headed out–all the way to my local church–and spent some time in quiet reflection. Towards the end of the day, I began to write down some words that articulated my thoughts and out flowed the following: ‘I have a vision where every church in the land runs a house for the homeless.’ 

I stopped and looked at the words. They at once terrified and excited me. I then spent a long time trying to work them out: was this from God, or had it come from somewhere else within me? As I was thinking about this, I received a letter from Carlos, one of our first two tenants (who was still in prison at the time), in which he quoted from 1 John: ‘[I]f we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And . . . we know that we have what we asked of him.’ 

The more I dwelt on the idea, the more I thought: how could it not be God’s will for his Church to house the homeless? Surely it pleases him if we shelter the afflicted, the imprisoned, the trafficked, the abused, the refugee and those who suffer the greatest pain, trauma, rejection and isolation – those for whom his heart stirs. 

The idea struck me then, and it still strikes me now, as being bang in the middle of God’s desires and exactly in accordance with the heart that we see articulated in the Psalms and prophets. Likewise, it strikes me as expressing the heart of this man called Jesus who associated himself with, and healed, those the world overlooked and judged; this Jesus who instructed his early Church not to contract out their responsibilities, but to care for the crowds in front of them; this Jesus whose penultimate words were a command to his friend John to take into his home a vulnerable lady. It also seems to me a very good reflection of the way John and the early Church then lived, as ‘they shared everything they had’ so that ‘there were no needy persons among them’. Likewise, I find it a good outworking of John’s teaching decades later: ‘If anyone has material possession and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in that person?’

This is how the early Church operated, and it is how today’s Church is still meant to operate. Thus, I have come to the conclusion that, whatever the source of this idea, it is at least a noble cause, and that there are worse objectives one could put one’s energies into. For this reason, I am glad to now be part of a team that is pursuing this objective.

We want to be leaders in a movement where it becomes normal to share one’s wealth with the poor by investing in a home. We see a time when it is expected of Christians that, in addition to tithing, they have some investment in a house for the homeless. 

I am certain the vision is far larger than Hope into Action: we rejoice over any church we hear of that is giving the homeless a home and wish them every blessing with it. Now that we have over 75 homes, people sometimes ask me: ‘Ed, did you ever imagine it would get this big?’ To which the honest answer is, ‘Yes!’ But that doesn’t mean I am not amazed that we have got here. I had a big faith when I started out, and I still do, but I also grossly underestimated how hard it would be.

It has been a journey of 100,000 tiny steps, countless setbacks, even more disappointments, and relentless wrestles with difficulties. Having ventured and tussled our way along this road for some time now, we are keen to share the benefits of our journey. We’ve made tons of mistakes, learned loads and tried to improve along the way. We now have lots of practical tools with which to equip others who are interested – in the shape of policies, procedures, forms and an online manual – as well as having long-term staff who are imbued with our knowledge and ethos.

As we are the only organization that has partnered with over 70 churches to give the homeless a home, we feel we carry a responsibility to wisely share all we’ve learned. The poor deserve nothing less. We are not yet meeting even a tiny fragment of their needs. It is those unmet needs that must drive us on. With this in mind, we are keen to help any church that is interested in pursuing this idea.