Ministering to the Homeless 2

A Ministry in the Cold, With a Gospel of Propane
Find and read the rest of this very moving story here:

Jose Adrian Tenahua is in an encampment of homeless people in Ocean County, N.J.;  A minister has been visiting several sites a week to supply the residents with propane. Photo by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Written By KAREEM FAHIM

 LAKEWOOD, N.J., Feb. 8 — The minister pulled his large blue bus into a parking lot a half-mile from Exit 82 on the Garden State Parkway, behind a Boater’s World and a McDonald’s. Stepping out, he plunged into the frozen backwoods, where he came upon several tents zipped up tight against the frigid wind. In the back of the bus, the minister carried bulging gray metal cans filled with gallons of relief. For the homeless who have settled here, by mucky streams or in thickets of scrub pine, in sight of cellphone towers and gas stations but on the edges of survival, his gift of propane is all that prevents them from falling off.The propane is little salve for most of their problems, like the loneliness and the boredom, the mental disorders and the substance abuse. Yet when the minister, Steven A. Brigham, called out, “Are you home?” a tent flap quickly unzipped to reveal a man with a teardrop tattoo next to one eye.“I need propane,” said the man, Brett Bartholomew, after they caught up for a minute. “I’m down to my last two tanks. I’m using them now.”

It is a ritual Mr. Brigham performs several times a week — more when the temperature drops — in a kind of propane ministry he has built since 2003 that now serves 44 homeless men and women scattered in nine encampments in the Ocean County communities of Lakewood and two neighboring towns on the Jersey Shore.

Mr. Brigham, who started working with the homeless six years ago, gave the Mexicans a communal tent, where they sit together and eat meals they make in a giant turkey cooker. A dozen yards away, through littered undergrowth, there is a shantytown of black residents, who have lived in the wilderness for years.

The four people who live under the power lines are white. Ronnie Banks, who is black, used to live there, but after being taunted with a racial epithet, he moved to Mr. Bartholomew’s camp.

Mr. Banks, a recovering addict, said he had served time in prison for dealing drugs. His tent is, in the ramshackle, patchwork world of the camps, nearly spotless. There are teddy bears on his bed and pink carnations next to it. He said he was close with his 13 children; one daughter works just down the road. His tent sits alone, at the opposite end of a rise that allows him and Mr. Bartholomew to watch over the path that leads to their homes.

The woods around them are filled with trash. Residents of the homes nearby complain about their presence. “This is the safest place for me right now,” Mr. Banks said.

(…)

THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!

Winter is coming, It is already cold,

Soon to be Cold to the Bone.

Please volunteer somewhere!

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7 responses to “Ministering to the Homeless 2

  1. Pingback: DVD » Blog Archive » Ministering to the Homeless 2

  2. Hi! I saw Mr. Brigham’s story on the MSN site and was wondering if you know of a way to get in touch with this man and send some donations? Any suggestions?

  3. Hello Maria and bless you!

    Anyone who would like to assist the Rev. Steve Brigham may call (732) 364- 0340 or (732) 814-5537.

    Brigham may also be reached at Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church, P.O. Box 326, Lakewood, NJ 08701.

    Oldtimer

    I’m posting a new article on Mr. Brigham’s ministry today.

  4. I have just become aware of a homeless community in our community, as a Pastor I am greatly concerned for the welfare of these people, however I have no clue as to how to approach them to help them, we are a very small home church group, but do want to help, being a female minister, I’m not sure it is safe to just show up into this community. Any suggestions to get us going?

    • Hello Carol, and bless you and your Church. I would not advise your going alone, even though my own experience is that most homeless groups/communities have members that would not allow someone in the group to harm you. However it is still not a chance I would allow my wife to take, nor should you take.

      Find one or more male members of your congregation to go with you and just go to talk, find out what their needs are and, if possible, some of their stories. Express your concerns and ask them how you can help. You may have to write off some of the comments, but in general, you should get the answers you need from those living there.

      We did not take that direct approach initially. Our own church initiated their ministry by taking coffee and breakfast foods (precooked and kept hot) to the nearest parking spot to their camp. We also took blankets and an assortment of warm socks and coats. We did this once a week and did not try to preach to them, but simply to feed, serve and learn their stories.

      We first offered them transportation to our services if they wanted, then we started offering a brief service after the meal, but never required anyone to come in order to be fed. Our service attracted as many af 15 at a time.

      It took 4 weeks before one particular gentleman began taking food from us. Now he is a member of our Church, has a car and a place to live. We have 4 or 5 former homeless among our members now. All at little cost to us other than the showing of love and finding out their needs and assisting them in finding a way back to civilization.

      You will find lists of what the homeless need most in the way of supplies elsewhere in this blog. Supplies are a temporarty need. Love, hope and help are at the top of the real need.

      Grace and Peace,
      Jim

  5. Jim,
    I came across Rev Steve in a new clip from youtube while researching tent cities….God has lead me to you…please pray in agreement with us as to how God would use us to love the people in Steve’s community in the coming months.

    Marc

  6. I would like to help in some compacity. my schedule is flexible because I am in real estate. I use to be a paramedic and also married to an emergency room doc, which I thought may come in handy.

    what needs to be done?

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