Ole Anthony subsists on "earnings" of $55 per week.
What's remarkable about that is the fact that he chooses to do so.
Anthony heads the Trinity Foundation located here in Dallas, Texas.
Nationally, Anthony's foundation is best known for its work in monitoring and exposing unethical and illegal televangelists. You may have seen Anthony's expose that aired on Dateline recently concerning faith healer Benny Hinn. The foundation has a long history of exposing frauds in religious media.
Anthony will tell you that one of his motivations in going after these religious leaders has to do with how many of his own homeless friends report being ripped off by them as they decided to use their last few dollars to play religious lotto! You know, "Send me your money and God will reward you 100 fold!"
Anthony also publishes the satirical Wittenburg Door (see link to right here).
Anyone who knows Anthony or The Door immediately gets the logical connection!
Anthony has a reputation for being straight, challenging and tough on organized religion and the church in general.
But, back to the $55 per week.
Anthony and his friends live in a community arrangement here in East Dallas. The community includes successful professionals (Anthony made it financially big time in the 1970s) living literally side-by-side with formerly homeless persons.
Want a memorable and provocative experience? Drop in on the community for lunch any day. You will be welcomed and you will see a community at work.
Anthony had an idea several years ago about how to solve the problem of homelessness in Dallas. He calculated that the homeless population at the time was equivalent to the number of faith communities in the city. If each church, synagogue and mosque would simply "adopt" a homeless person, the problem could be addressed effectively.
By "adopt" Anthony did not mean give a handout and then be done with the persons who needed housing. Rather, he intended the development of relationships, caring to whatever depth necessary and the extension of respect along with the real expectation that the homeless had much to offer the non-homeless.
He also is clear that the commitment would be unconditional. "We know that some people take advantage of us and mess up," he shared in a recent speech. "But, we keep on anyway."
Having watched Anthony now for well over a decade, I can begin to connect the dots in his amazing life.
A very successful, but empty business man, Anthony encountered Jesus. Everything changed as he read after his new leader. He could easily see the emphasis of Jesus on people in need--"the least of these." He took the words of Jesus to heart.
He observed that lots of people and groups claiming to follow the same Jesus did not. Some even used their positions to rip off the weak and the vulnerable.
Now Anthony lives among the poor as a poor man himself. He challenges the forces of organized religion through his fascinating journal. He exposes the thieves among the faithful.
And, he continues to challenge the church in Dallas to get its act together about the poor and the homeless. We need to listen.
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