Tag Archives: Ministry

Ministering to the Homeless 7

This is the seventh article in a series on ministering to the homeless.   This one is special.  It is about a ministry by Steve Brigham that has touched my heart to the extent that I’ve included his ministry twice.  The first article on his minstry dates back to February of 2007.    I thought it was time for an update because the compassion and love and sacrifice required for this ministry is just enormous.  The article below is reproduced only in snippets to give you a flavor of what the good Reverand does for the homeless.  Please read the Tri-Town News story for the rest of it.

 Rev.’s appointed rounds are off the beaten path

 Steve Brigham continues outreach to homeless population

BY TOYNETT HALL Staff Writer Tri-Town News January 10, 2008

On a regular basis the Rev. Steve Brigham of the Lakewood Outreach Ministry wakes at the crack of dawn to visit 11 campsites in Ocean County.   These are not the type of campsites where families go to spend a weekend enjoying nature.

Brigham walks along railroad tracks and trudges through the muddy forest floor bearing gifts for the homeless people who live in these campsites and who have become his friends.   One of his goals is to make sure that the people who live in tent encampments throughout the county have enough propane gas to run the heaters that keep them warm through the cold winter nights.

As he reaches a group of tents in what is identifiable as a Mexican encampment, Brigham offers blankets to the people living at the site and tells his amigos where tortillas are being cooked and that he will bring them a big tent the next time he comes.

A short time later Brigham is driving his bus – a motel on wheels – to a site called Shanty Town. At this campsite some of the dwellings are made with wood that came from a lumber yard. Other people live in tents that have been provided by Brigham and anonymous donors.

(…) 

The last site of the day was also in Toms River. At that spot Brigham pitched tents for Gloria, 65, and Richard A. Mazzella Jr., 33. Both individuals said they ended up here as a result of financial hardships.

(…) 

Another resident of the camp, Robert Wayne Pisano, said he has been homeless since he was 16. He is now in his 40s. Pisano said if it were not for Brigham’s kindness, he does not know where he would be. He said Brigham offers people like him a measure of hope.

“I have never seen a man take time out of his life like this. This guy cares who you are and where you are. He treats us like we are his own kids. Every piece of clothing I have on right now is because of Steve,” Pisano said.

As tears welled up in his eyes, Pisano said, “We have nothing. Yes, we are homeless, but we want to be treated like everyone else. Please recognize us.”

(…) 

According to statistics from the New Jersey Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national nonprofit, as of Jan. 25, 2007, there were 14,939 homeless people in New Jersey. Of that number, 12,397 were adults and 2,542 were children.

In Ocean County, 366 adults were found to be homeless. In Monmouth County, 590 adults were found to homeless, according to information provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. These numbers may be under-reported, according to the agency.

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.

THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!

Winter is Here, It is already cold,

It is Cold to the Bone

Please volunteer somewhere!

Oldtimer

Ministering to the Homeless 4

Christian duty, county law at odds

in Westgate trial

This is the fourth in a series of articles on how to minister to the homeless.    It concerns a church that is intent on helping the homeless despite the efforts of the county where it resides.   The county wants to limit the number served or close them down.  They refuse.  This has been an 8 year battle so far and the church will not back down.  They are intent in their efforts to minister to the homeless where the county does not.

Find this story here
By Sonja Isger
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH – Westgate Tabernacle Church may be a place where the heartbreak of homeless men, women and children seems endless.

But what jurors should see first, said county attorney Amy Petrick, is a property owner who has engaged in a lengthy attempt to dodge county zoning and building regulations.

Church leaders built outdoor showers and toilets without permits and allowed people to sleep under a roof riddled by termite and water damage. They continue to pack as many as 100 people where county fire regulations say only 25 should bed.

Though they now claim they have a constitutional right to house as many homeless people in their sanctuary as they see fit, they once offered to seek a permit to shelter the homeless – up to 14 of them. “That’s what this is really about – the number of folks you can have in this facility,” Petrick said in her opening statements Tuesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

While the church occupies only a sandy, weed-filled patch in a run-down neighborhood, the sentiment it has stirred about how this community cares for its homeless has filled newspapers, church petitions and dinner conversations.

One excused juror said she had resolved just this weekend to send the church a check. Another potential juror went home after the first day of questioning and asked her husband to pull Bible verses specifically on the homeless. After being excused, Michelle Damone, a married mother of two, said that years back she got caught in a tropical storm and was taken in by strangers. She remembers praying over dinner with them.

The church’s attorney, Barry Silver, is not only arguing that the church must fulfill its mission, but that the county government is failing its homeless by not providing adequate shelter. On the contrary, Petrick said, the county gets millions from state and federal government to aid the homeless and spends even more of its own.

The county and the church, which was built in 1929 just north of Palm Beach International Airport, have been at odds since 1999, when code enforcement officials determined the church was violating zoning laws by operating a homeless shelter in a residential neighborhood.

This is what ministering to the homeless means

Oldtimer’s Comment: You may think that “packing” people in a “termite riddled” and “water damaged” structure is not the proper place for housing the homeless, but when the alternative is a card board box or abandoned car or a high place on the ground in the weeds, you are wrong.   If the county would provide the services, there would be no need for 10o men and women to show up nightly at the church.   Besides, the description used in court papers do not always shine the light that illustrates the true conditions.   See the YouTube video above and see for yourself.

These homeless people would not show up at the church night after night if there were safer or better accommodations.  It is this church’s determination to serve the homeless in the face of fines and or closure that I applaud, not the conditions, which as I see from the video are not the same as those mentioned in the news article.

Oldtimer

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!