What’s next?

Posted Mar 23, 2010 by 7 Comments

If you’ve been reading World Next Door for the past week or so, you’ve seen that this particular trip has stirred up an incredible amount of discussion, reflection and action.  My experience living homeless for four days on the streets of New York City seems to have touched off something deep within our readers.

From conversations I’ve had to comments on the website to emails I’ve received, it’s obvious that people are worked up.

One of NYC’s thousands of homeless people.

Perhaps it’s because American homelessness hits so much closer to home.  We all feel bad about children starving in Haiti or massive slums in Kenya, but homelessness is something we see every day.  Every time we walk past a homeless person on the street we have a choice thrust into our faces; to act, to speak or to do nothing.

And while I would argue that it is just as important to commit our lives to the healing of international issues of injustice, I also see this as a fantastic opportunity to delve even deeper into a place that we all need to grow.

Off to the Bowery

That is why, for the next week, I will be continuing my exploration into the causes and effects of homelessness by living in the Bowery Mission in downtown Manhattan.

The Bowery is an old and respected homeless shelter in the city, and should be a source of some incredible new learning opportunities for each of us.  Check out this video to see a little more about what they do:

Now, I will not be living as a homeless person this time.  Instead of walking around quietly with a dour expression on my face to hide my identity, I’ll be my usual, happy self… asking lots of questions and hopefully learning a lot about what goes on behind those doors.

I hope to spend lots of time with individual people, learning their stories and sharing those with you here on World Next Door.

Stay Tuned!

Be sure to check back in all this week and next for more articles, photo galleries and stories from the streets of New York City.

Oh, and if you haven’t had a chance to read all of the articles I wrote while living homeless last week, be sure to check them out here:

On the Streets

A few updates as I prepare to live homeless on the streets of New York City…

Click here to read this article…

On the Streets: Day One

On my first day living homeless in Manhattan I developed a whole new perspective on panhandling.

Click here to read this article…

On the Streets: The Station

After sleeping on the floor of Penn Station for a night, I learned how important it is to remember the invisible…

Click here to read this article…

On the Streets: The Shelter

After two nights living in a homeless shelter, I’ve had my understanding of homelessness totally changed…

Click here to read this article…

On the Streets: Alone

After four days on the streets of NYC, I’m realizing how disconnected the homeless can become from everyone else…

Click here to read this article…

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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  1. eness said... 


    March 23rd, 2010 at 9:51 am  

    Glad you’ll be your ‘usual happy self’! :)
    Still praying for you, friend.

  2. Emily Cox said... 


    March 23rd, 2010 at 10:48 am  

    Very thought-provoking articles! It does hit closer to home. I think another reason we “do nothing” when it comes to America’s homeless, is the tendency to judge and assume that the reason someone is on the streets is because they did something “wrong.” And all the while forget that Jesus dined with publicans and sinners…Thank you, Barry, for the reminder. I will be praying for the new doors of opportunity that God has given your ministry.

  3. amy bell said... 


    March 23rd, 2010 at 2:48 pm  

    this has been such an eye-opening adventure for me….truly. i have lots to think about right now. it started by gathering up all the things in the pantry that needed to be given to food pantry and driving it there….today. i can make a dent. i cannot forget.

  4. Steve H. said... 


    March 24th, 2010 at 9:34 am  

    Give Tom (Director at the Bowery)a pat on the back…he’s a high energy, happy guy too! Also, check out opportunities he might have for a group of High School freshmen I’m most likely bringing down there next Spring Break. I’d love for them to spend a couple nights there and help out. Thanks Barry!

  5. Pam Orr said... 


    March 24th, 2010 at 1:23 pm  

    I first heard about this while I was serving at light house last Sunday. I have served at wheeler a few times myself and then when we had outreach week at church my husband and myself starting to serve weekly. We enjoy serving at light house and building relationships with the men, and with all the other volunteers there. What you are doing takes alot of strength and courage that I believe God has given you. Your wonderful writing and sharing has been a huge blessing to me. It has helped me to think outside the box and have a small touch of what it would be like actually living as homeless (I say small because I believe, hearing and actually walking in the shoes is a huge difference). It sure has my thoughts going, on how and what I can do better when it comes to the homeless. Your stories have given me better sight on changes I can make, that will have an inpact on the homeless. I know I will never be able to walk past a homeless person on the street again without a friendly hello and probably more!
    I know just last week after serving at light house I had a few really awesome conversations with a few of the men. One of them asked me why I take time out of my life each week to serve them. That was so humbling…. I serve the homeless because I see them as people, children of God and I care! I have been looking for a place to volunteer and serve for the last few years and I think I have finally found the place that God wants me to be and that I love.
    Barry, thank you for sharing and for all your work you do for us, God’s children!! I look forward to having more courage in having conversations with the homeless. Thanks to your experience and sharing, I now have even more courage to open that door!
    You are in my prayers! Blessings to you! I look forward to hearing more about your experiences and ministry.
    Pam Orr

  6. Amy Sorrells said... 


    March 24th, 2010 at 10:37 pm  

    Praying! And praising! What a gift this series is to everyone. The lame will leap, the blind will see . . . in so many ways. Thank you for helping us see so many things . . . for helping us to leap into action . . . and for helping the lame and marginalized leap, too (and foremost!!!) through all your writing, Barry. Thank you.

  7. Michele said... 


    March 25th, 2010 at 9:56 pm  

    wow, your posts keep getting better and better! what a great article with excellent visuals to help us understand what you are seeing. the invisible line analogy made me gasp….my hope is that the community sees what they can do with their lives….i will pray for that tonight. thank you barry!

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