Category Archives: Outreach

Standing in Faith and Moving Forward

The phrase “standing in faith and moving forward” can seem almost like an oxymoron if you think of the words literally. We have been repeatedly assured, however, that if you stand strong in your faith in God, He will let you know everything is going to be just fine as you are taking small steps to move forward. Isn’t it wonderful to know just how much God loves you, how He is ever present, and how he watches over you every day? Read on for one great example in today’s story. This post was inspired by a recent event that was leaving us feeling hopeless and wondering how we could help in a particular outreach situation.
Upon our return from vacation, my husband went out the next morning looking for some of his camp (homeless) friends to see how they were doing. We had been away for a couple weeks and he wanted to check to see that they were all doing OK. He called me to say that he didn’t see any of them at their usual fast food meeting place. He did, however, run into a person he had never met who seemed to be homeless, and began a conversation with him asking if he had seen any of the others. This man told him that something had happened to one of our specific camp friends, but didn’t have more details to share.  Rich was upset to hear this news and called me to inform me. We felt so badly and were not sure how we would or could find out more about him. We were sad to realize we may not get to ever know what happened, except through the “rumor mill.” We both prayed for his health and welfare.

In the mean time I had been planning to go to the post office on my lunch break from work to pickup the mail they had been holding for us during our vacation. As it turned out, my plans were delayed since I had to handle a priority incident for my job and was unable to take my normal lunch break. After the incident was cleared, I headed to the post office a bit late and, knowing I would have to be quick, decided to take a shortcut through a residential section off the main road.
After turning into the section, I spotted a man on a bike and as I got closer, recognized him as our camp friend. This was the friend we were so concerned about due to the news we heard earlier in the day.
I rolled down the window to speak with him briefly, asking if he was OK and he indicated that he was fine. It was such a relief and a blessing to know he was OK. I called my husband to let him know and he was relieved as well.
If The Holy Spirit hadn’t diverted me from my schedule, I most likely would not have been at the right place to know our camp friend was doing fine! It’s always amazing to me to see that God knows what we need and He provides it just in time. We are so grateful for answered prayers. Feeling blessed

Amazing Grace, Once Lost Now Found

God watches over those in despair every day, providing for them in amazing ways! This is a brief story of one of those people, once lost now found. Read on to see how God’s amazing grace saved a homeless man who desperately needed Him, blessing other lives as well along the way.

About 10 years ago my husband’s brother befriended a homeless man he met on the streets in our area. He was very good to him, inviting him to stay on cold nights in a garage-type building behind his home. He and his wife would often provide food for him and make sure he had necessities. Over the next couple years, he continued to bring him into this building in his backyard whenever the weather conditions were extreme. As the years went by, my husband’s brother moved to another location, losing touch with the homeless man. My husband, concerned about the welfare of this homeless man, often searched for him on the streets, but was no longer seeing him at any of his usual hangout locations. He feared something may have happened to him, praying that instead he had possibly moved on to another area.

One day about a year later, we had gone out to do some errands and spotted him walking in the opposite direction. My husband quickly turned the car around and we picked him up. He was so happy to see that his homeless friend was still around. We took him to get a meal and brought him in from the weather for several hours. My husband began to help him whenever he would see him on the streets, and eventually began to visit the homeless camp where he was living in a tent. This man would resort to searching parking lot areas hoping to find some loose change on the ground to try to save up to get a cup of coffee. He would also check the dumpster of a local store and gather expired food items they may have thrown away. He relied on these things to survive from day to day. There were other homeless folks living in tents in the same area as well. My husband would often take a couple of our camp friends to get a warm meal and coffee at a local restaurant. He would sometimes take them to get clothing at a thrift store. He began to check up on his friend routinely to make sure he was OK, because he seemed to be looking more frail each time we would see him. At some point about 6 months ago, we learned that this homeless man had been taken to the hospital by ambulance and while he was there, doctors discovered that he was highly diabetic. They were able to get his blood sugar levels down close to normal over a period of about a week’s time, but upon his discharge, he was given insulin medication prescriptions, which he was not able to administer to himself. This man is unable to hold a job or truly care for himself when it comes to taking medications, as he suffers from a schizophrenic condition that leads him to be confused at times and not be able to hold his concentration. He continued to have episodes over the next couple months of being in and out of the hospital for the same reasons and was getting very thin… looking like the pictures we see of people from other countries who are suffering from starvation. His tent conditions were getting worse as there had been storms in the area and he was basically sleeping on wet blankets many nights on the ground. After about the 4th hospital stay, my husband began talking to the social workers and trying to plead to get him into a facility, fearing that if he were to return to woods, he wouldn’t make it through another winter. He tried to get him signed up with help at local community centers in the past with no success. It’s difficult to get help for someone who has no photo ID, or address, even though it seems to us that these are the people who need the help the most. Our camp friend ended up in the hospital once more and my husband was finally able to get them to transfer him to a rehabilitation center.

Our camp friend is now in a facility where he has a bed to sleep in, a roof over his head and is fed 3 meals a day. He has access to running water and a shower whenever he wants one. He has attended our church services several times and has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. His life has been turned around since going into this facility. We are praying that he will have a permanent home there or in an assisted living facility. He has shown much improvement and is putting on weight. It’s amazing to see the difference in him and his spirits are up as well. God is working through us and many others to help transform this man’s life, and we are honored that He has chosen us to do this important work. To God be all the glory!

Shine His light – Answer His call!

It is plain for us to see that whenever we let God’s light shine inside us through the Holy Spirit, amazing things can happen. Through one outreach effort to help a homeless man, we have been Divinely diverted to a nursing and rehabilitation facility. This facility has provided us many encounters with residents there resulting in new friendships. Read this inspiring story to see one example of how God uses us to let His love flow, multiply and spread when we are willing to answer His call and open the door to allow Him to bless others.

My husband recently felt called by God to help a homeless man in our area whom he had befriended several years ago. This man was in the hospital for the 5th time in a year, and during his last hospital stay my husband was able to work diligently to get him into a rehabilitation center upon release. I won’t go into too many details about this man in today’s blog post, but do promise to share his story in an upcoming post. Be sure to watch for future posts, as his story and personal testimony of how God has turned his life around is an amazing one.

Shortly after this homeless man was moved into the Rehabilitation Center, it became obvious to me that God had a much greater plan and purpose for bringing us there. We began to meet other residents of the Rehabilitation Center, listening to their stories, or talking to them one-on-one. My husband began to routinely visit many of them. During the daytime hours most residents are taken from their individual rooms to an activity/dining area, where they spend the day. As we began to make routine visits a few times a week, it was so amazing to see the pleasant looks on many of the residents’ faces when my husband would walk into the activity room and begin to talk with them. He definitely is a people-person and I could tell the residents were beginning to grow very fond of his visits.

There was one particular woman who would never smile, nor did she show any expressions on her face. Instead, she would sit still, not wanting to respond to us on our first several visits. My husband continued to talk with her on each visit even though there was no response. She continually had a sad look about her, seeming determined to hide her expressions from the world around her. On one visit, my husband kept asking her to smile for him, saying he would love to see her smile, and he repeated this several times to her. After talking with her for a few minutes, all of a sudden, she turned her head up and looked at him and gave him a huge smile from ear to ear. We were all amazed by this response and this special moment, knowing that he had in some small way actually brightened her day. Even the staff was very surprised to see that he was successful in unmasking her smile. On our most recent visit just the other day, she actually stood up from her wheelchair extending her arm to reach out to my husband. He took her hand concerned about her balance. A member of the staff told us that this response meant she wanted to go for a walk. We were told that she was able to walk with assistance, so I took her other hand as she began to walk. We walked with her down the hallway and she seemed very content. She gave us several smiles that day throughout our walk down the hallway and our visit with her. It’s so wonderful to see what a kind word and cheerful greeting can do for those who have become depressed, withdrawn, or perhaps even brokenhearted.

There’s a song we hear on the radio often containing this lyric: “God put a million, million doors in the world for his love to walk through, one of those doors is you.” (“With Every Act of Love” by Jason Gray)  Everyone has a gift of love to give, and a heart with which to carry and reflect God’s light out to the world.

I encourage you to look around as you go through your day. Is there someone you know or pass by who could use a token of kindness from you today? Why not let God use you to spread His light to touch and bless some hearts today?

Colossians 3:12 (NIV)  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

10 Tips Reaching Out to Homeless

It is a sad but true fact that the homeless populations are increasing in numbers in our society today. Many homeless people who were victims of hardships in their lives are struggling to survive on our streets without a roof over their heads and don’t know where or when they will get their next meal. Have you ever passed homeless people on the streets wanting to help, but unsure of what to do? Ever thought about reaching out to homeless in your community?

I had a different blog post planned for today, but then I came across some disturbing statistics about those who are currently unemployed and how some government programs have been cut in the past year or two, resulting in a higher homeless population in America. I viewed this as my Divine diversion for today, feeling a strong need to encourage people who may have thought of reaching out to less fortunate folks, but may not be quite sure how to begin going about it. Think about those things that you may take for granted on any given day: having a place to lay your head to sleep with a roof to protect you, a bed to sleep in, running water and soap to take a bath or shower, a refrigerator with food in it, clothes and shoes to wear. These are all things you and I may feel are just simple necessities of life. But for many on the streets, these things would be a luxury. We encourage you to consider reaching out in your community to those who could use some donations or just a kind word now and then.

Here are some tips based on our own experiences which may help you with reaching out to homeless in your community:

  • Visit your local municipality community relations office or police department and ask them if they know where homeless populations may be located in your local areas.
  • Ask them also if there are organizations that assist the homeless in your community. You may want to contact these organizations to volunteer your time, assistance or perhaps make a donation of money or items which may be helpful in their efforts. Ask them about their needs and they will be happy to tell you how best to assist them.
  • When you approach homeless folks, don’t be afraid to talk to them! Homeless folks are mostly just people like you and me who have fallen on hard times and/or have been victims of unimaginable circumstances. Many have testimonies to share of difficult struggles and trials in their lives. Most all are certainly not homeless by choice. They should not be judged and we should never turn our backs on them. Any one of us could be in a similar situation if not for fate and different choices or paths we have chosen to take in our lives. Show them compassion, kindness and generosity.
  • Bring them donations of items they desperately need. Typical needs are clean clothes (especially socks and underwear), toiletries to use to cleanup and make a good appearance (soap, deodorant, shampoo, combs, brushes, shaving cream, razors and nail clippers)
  • Bring them Water: bottled water is important for them to have on hand if they are living in a tent or camp-like area to be used for cleaning up as well as drinking.
  • Provide them with opportunities to get food: Restaurant or grocery store gift cards for places where they can get out of the weather for a bit and get something to eat, and perhaps a cup of coffee. Look for local, easy to travel by foot fast food restaurants that serve coffee. If you feel comfortable, have them join you at a nearby restaurant for a meal and coffee – most would love to talk to you if you show an interest in their story.
  • Bring donations of weather-appropriate items for your community areas such as blankets, gloves, hats and scarves if the weather is cold.
  • If you introduce them to someone, please call them your friend, do not refer to them as “homeless.” They deserve respect just as anyone else, and should not be labeled by society.
  • Please tell everyone you know about the homeless in your community to spread awareness about their needs. Share their stories, so people will know they are real folks who are need of their compassion.
  • Never go alone when you are performing outreach efforts – many of the homeless are completely harmless, but there are some who will prey on others. Travel in numbers and in daylight hours. Keep your cell phone handy and let people know what you are doing and where you will be going.

We have felt a strong calling to do homeless outreach in our area, after seeing the needs of those less fortunate. God certainly is working through us to be there for these folks as much as possible, but he is also working through these folks to bless us in a grand way for His glory. We feel honored that we can serve such an amazing God!

Acts 20:35
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Bible, King James Version