In 1995, Diane and I invited Ed, a local homeless man to our home for dinner. He came over that night, and the next and the next. Then he brought friends until we were serving a meal almost every night of the week out of our two-bedroom apartment. We spent a couple of years just listening to our friends and helping with what little we could.
After a few years, we realized that the homeless community needed a worship service of their own and so began gathering in worship with homeless people beginning in 1999. Over the years, our ministry grew and we currently rent a facility from the Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference where we offer a day shelter five days a week, showers, clothes, a winter overnight shelter and a small community house, as well as multiple worship services.
We weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Most importantly, we welcome and offer love to even the most difficult of people. The police and other churches send people our way when there is no other help for them.
After twenty years of working with the most distraught and struggling people, we have tolls on our own strength and emotional resonance. Our long-term members are worn and new supporters and volunteers are difficult to find. On the other hand, when we see someone get a job, get their life turned around and praise God for our work in their lives, it is all worth it!
Linda was a grandmother who lost her home, her car and her job because of a false accusation. She lived on the street for five years, all the while encouraging and supporting high school kids on the street. We supported her and seeing her talent in being a “mom” on the street, we invited her to take over our day shelter program. She now has housing and volunteers four days a week leading our day shelter program. Michael (pictured below) sold and used drugs on the street for many years. He came regularly to the day shelter and church, and he would occasionally stay at our community house. However, drugs always pulled him back on the street. After a lot of prayer (by him and us), he and his best dog-friend, Alice, finally remained at the community house for good. Now he has gotten back in touch with his family and is leading our work day where the homeless care for our church property.
We are looking for more peacemakers and servants of the poor to join our work with us, as well as more support. We are also seeking a fuller release of the Spirit to give a renewal of joy and energy to love with Jesus’ love.
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