Portland Oregon’s Homeless Teens

Homeless teens flock to Portland, Oregon

On this blog we have discussed conversations started and the incarnational living out of our faith in this world. We have great ideas, good plans, hopes, dreams, and we love to talk about our successes. But in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, I am going to tell you about a missed opportunity that has been haunting me.

Last night my extended family all met for dinner in the Pear District of Portland, Oregon. The Pear District is exactly the kind of place I like: authentic, artistic boutiques and coffee shops, every restaurant from chains to mom and pop shops. Unfortunately, we were late and had only time to walk from the parking garage to Henry’s, a tavern with great food and lots of seating. Just before we got to the restaurant, a teen boy asked us for bus fare: he had only 90 cents. David and I and our sister-in-law kept walking, and it has haunted me ever since.

We had a chance to stop, for just a minute or two, and look that boy in the eyes. We could have asked him how his day was, if he was making it ok. We already knew that Portland, Oregon has one of the highest incidences of homeless runaway teens in the United States. The stories we have heard have broken my heart. I had recently watched the clip of the Burnside Bridge Ministry (not sure if that is the right name) from Lord Save Us From Your Followers. I’d seen Christians washing the feet of boys like this, giving them dignity. I’d read about the Bridge Church in Jim and Casper Go to Church, and heard about the kids who pour into their ministry for fellowship and help and a little free food. I heard these things, but I didn’t stop, afraid that my family would not forgive another few minutes late. I heard, and I didn’t do.

I think there is a Bible verse about that somewhere.

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.