Good News Today
There was particularly good news to report today. Our homeless friends Al J. and Steve W. have both been assigned a place to live, but we are not talking just a shelter here! They are excited, I mean really excited. So is the group at our church that has been working with them so very long.
Al, surprised by the flash.
Al is a homeless veteran. He had been living in the woods for quite some time. When our small group first met him he was resistant to the idea of moving out of the woods. He was heavily bearded with wild long hair and looked pretty ragged. ”I like it here,” he said. Of course, it was not true. Later he admitted that he was resigned to living in the woods and never expected to get out. “I like it here” was just a way of coping.
That was before several families in our Church began to develop real relationships with the homeless they were feeding breakfast to on Sunday mornings. By relationships, I mean friendships, and true bonds. This extended beyond just providing food and supplies, beyond inviting them to Church, Sunday School and Wednesday night dinners. It included true friendships and love for fellow man.
When Al complained that “I smell,” and said he was uncomfortable in church looking like a tramp, Scott and Pat took him to their home where he showered and put on newly cleaned clothes. Scott then took him to his son’s hair salon where he was treated like royalty and given a full shampoo, shave and haircut to the astonishment of other customers. How do you want your hair today, Sir? Does that look ok, Sir?
Al looked like and felt like a new man. Transformed, ready at last to come out of the woods, ready to not be homeless any more. Somehow he has managed to maintain his neat appearnce despite continuous living in the deep woods. The homeless ministry team followed through and helped Al get his VA papers. He said he did not even know he was elgible for help through the VA. The ministry team managed to get him signed up for the new veteran’s transitional housing program at MUST. The papers, however, were a long time coming. Far too long.
Two pictures of Steve.
Steve turns out to be an energetic worker, jack of all trades, experienced in all sorts of construction work. I know. He has worked for several families in our church and for me.
I found that he is an excellent carpenter and never slows down. When he runs out of a job, he picks up a broom or rake, or starts the next phase. He is also very dependable and has an excellent outlook on life. I found out that he is experienced in renovation of old houses and had once owned a house just two blocks from the one my wife grew up in. He gave it up to his wife and began a long downward spiral from there to homelessness.
When we first met Steve, he lived in a tarp in a pine thicket between two buildings. After the police raids in the area and Dominic froze to death, he applied to MUST Ministries for entry into their resident’s progam and was eventually accepted. He said he “did not want to end up like Dominic”. Steve is the one in the video talking about Dominic that I posted a few weeks ago. He and Al have attended Sunday School, Church services and Wednesday night dinners almost every week. That is a bible he is carrying in the left picture above.
Members of our church sponsored Steve and Al to a family church retreat over a recent weekend. Al said it was the “most fun I’ve had since I was a child”. Steve said it was a “wonderful experience”.
Well, the good news came from both of them today. Al has been accepted into a veteran’s transitional housing program and Steve into a supportive housing program. Both through MUST Ministries. Both start April 1. Our homeless ministry team is planning to have a dinner for them in celebration. It will be quite a celebration and with many thanks to God for His Grace.
It has turned out to be a great day. God is good!