This ministry is most effective when combined with other ministries. That way the person who recieves the Testament will place more value on it since someone who did something kind gave it to them. If possible, write their name in the front of the Testament as well as yours as the giver. You can also write a special verse that you would like them to read. John 3:16 for example.
If you only give out the Testaments and do not combine them with another ministry then you can tuck a dollar bill inside so that they can buy a burger or a coke. Or you can put a McDonalds gift card inside.
As Christians we all know the power that the word of God has and how it can change a persons life. This change is important for those of us who have everything as well as those who have nothing. Without some change in the way a person thinks, they will continue the same pattern of behavior for the rest of their life. Without the Gospel and without love, every ministry on this site is only a temporary fix.
If a person is looking for a job then Craigslist is a perfect place to look or to advertise services. The problem for a homeless person is internet access. If a person has a cell phone and is looking to advertise a service like painting, stucco work, carpentry, etc.. then all you would have to do for them is run the ad on craigslist for them. The ads are free and can be renewed indefinitely.
For this ministry to be effective the person needs to have a phone. If you do a Go Phone ministry then this would be a logical ministry to add to that.
NOTE – This ministry is intended only for homeless people who are diligently seeking a job and who do not have any alcohol or drug issues. If you give a phone and minutes to the wrong person you are just throwing your money away.
The ability to communicate can be a great asset to anyone, especially someone seeking employment. If you put an ad on craigslist seeking employment the employer has to have a number so that they can reach you. If you are calling about help wanted ads then you have to have access to a phone also.
A Go Phone is an inexpensive cell phone that a person can buy minutes for as they need them. A Go Phone minutes card can be used to add minutes to a phone. Go Phone is a trademark of AT&T. Other carriers have similar by the minute phones Basically, if a person has a Go Phone and a minutes card they have all they need to begin communicating with employers and assistance programs.
Let me just say that if you decide to try this ministry you need to be very selective about who you provide a Go Phone to. It needs to be someone that you know is trying to find work. The idea is for them to use the phone to get work, not to call and talk to friends.
A Go Phone runs about $15 at Walmart. You can buy several different minute cards. $15 cards are easy to find. You can give the phone only or the phone with a minutes card. Once the person has the ability to communicate you may want to look into a Craigslist Ad Ministry. This phone is in no way tied to you so there is not a downside other than the cost of the phone.
There are certain personal hygiene items that we all need every day. These would be items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, tissue paper, wet wipes, combs, soap, etc… Also, when we cut or injure ourselves we normally have a band aid and some ointment close by. We take most of these things for granted and seldom stop to think what life would be like without them.
Hygeine and first aid kits for the homeless are simple to put together and very helpful. Just make a list of the basic items you would need if you were homeless and then purchase them in bulk and put them in a heavy duty ziplock bag. Here are some ideas for what to put in a kit.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Mouthwash (non alcohol type)
- Chap Stick or Vaseline
- Shaving Razor
- Wet Wipes
- Band Aids
- Adhesive First Aid tape and gauze pads
- Anti Bacterial Ointment
- Ace Bandage
These are just some ideas. You can also split the kits into hygiene and first aid. One hygiene per person and one first aid kit per camp.
As you get involved with people in need you will from time to time come across families with children that are either homeless or close to being on the street. There is generally plenty of help available for families with children. The key is to connect these families to sources of help as soon as possible. The streets of Pensacola are no place for children.
Families become homeless for the same reason individuals do. Their income simply falls below a certain level, they are evicted from their place of residence, and they have nowhere to go. A loss of job is generally the reason for their income issue. If this is the only problem then a new job and a little help will generally get them back on their feet. In situations where addiction or abuse is involved, a different approach would have to be taken. Remember, your job is to connect them with someone who can help. The main goal is to get the kids to a safe place, preferably with their parents. You are most likely not going to be equipped to solve their problems but there are people and organizations that are.
A great place to go for basic assistance is Ensley First Baptist Church at 50 Johnson Avenue. They sponsor the Nothing Lost Outreach which reaches out to the homeless. They provide food, showers, haircuts and the gospel to the down and out. They don’t just talk about doing something, they do it. If you talk with homeless people around the Davis Highway and Old Palafox area you will find that Ensley First Baptist and Pastor Jeff have a very good reputation. They can also use donations to continue the great work that they are doing. Their website is www.nothinglostoutreach.com.
The state of Florida also has an assistance program for families with children. The website address is www.myflorida.com/accessflorida . This program provides food, medical assistance and cash to families in need. The goal of the program is to keep families together. The physical address is 33 Brent Lane, Suite 103.
Quite possibly the most secure prison in the world is the prison of addiction. It is easy to get into but very difficult to escape from. You can check out anytime you want, but sometimes it feels like you can never leave. If you have never had any issues with addiction, then consider yourself lucky.
The damage addiction does to a person’s life depends on what it is they are addicted to and how much they are able to keep it under control. Addiction to alcohol and drugs is in my opinion the most devastating of dependencies. It destroys not only the person but also everyone connected to that person. This includes children, wives, parents, brothers, sisters, and the list goes on. Once all of these relationships are destroyed, a person often finds themselves on the street. The sad thing is that addiction can lead to homelessness and homelessness can lead to addiction. Either way, once addiction has you it does not want to let go.
Drinking and being an alcoholic are two different things. One can lead to the other but not in every case. I say this because it is easy to stereotype everyone with a beer in their hand and say that they are alcoholics. A homeless person with a beer in their hand may or may not be an alcoholic. A homeless person that is always falling down drunk most likely is. An alcoholic cannot stop drinking. If they do their blood alcohol level drops and they experience withdrawals which leads them to their next drink. Alcohol also changes who a person is while they are under its influence. A friend of mine told me that calling it spirits is accurate because evil spirits have free access to a person while they are intoxicated. I do not know if that is true but it does make sense. It has been my experience that if a homeless person has an addiction problem it normally involves alcohol.
Addiction to drugs is similar to an addiction to alcohol. Your life expectancy is generally much shorter with a drug addiction. Heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth users seldom last two decades. Once a person becomes addicted to drugs they will most likely be dead in 15 to 20 years. Drug addiction is also different in that drugs have to be purchased illegally from not so nice people. The checkout lady at Wal-Mart and a drug dealer are two different types of people. Drug addictions are also more expensive. They also lead to a person doing desperate things to get drugs. Drug addicts can be dangerous to themselves and others for various reasons. Be careful how and when you interact with an addict. Everything you say and do should point them to a program and to Christ for help.
Drug addicts and alcoholics both need to be in a rehabilitation program that can help them get off drugs and alcohol and stay off. This involves a change in the way the person thinks. A Christ centered program is going to be the most effective one in my opinion. The Water Front Mission has an excellent program that has a good success rate. Your job is to get a person to see that they need help. Sharing the gospel with them and encouraging them is the best way to do this.
This is by far the greatest of all the ministries. It is also the most enjoyable and productive. Here is all you have to do.
- Find someone who can play guitar and sing.
- Find a place to have a service. We have had services on the side of the road but a park or other piece of property is better. We now have our services in one of our members Aunts front yard under a nice shade tree. Much better than an Interstate 10 on ramp.
- Invite people to come as you are talking with them. Let them know you will be serving lunch.
- Print out a single page on typing paper with the Bible verses you will talk about. No canned sermons. No agenda based sermons. Just the Bible. Parables and stories about Jesus work very well. (i.e. The Good Samaritan, The Woman at the Well, The Prodigal Son, The Raising of Lazarus, Etc…) Print enough copies for everyone to have one. You will find that they fold them up and keep them.
- On the day of the service purchase some pizzas, Food World chicken or just get a couple of loaves of bread, cheese, meat, mayonnaise and mustard. Add chips and water and you have your meal. If you have a folding table for the food that would be nice. Otherwise a picnic blanket will suffice.
- Meet at the location, open in prayer and let people start eating. Don’t ever make anyone wait until the service is over to eat. Let them eat up front. Then just start playing songs. Hymns and praise songs are great. Play as many as you want. We normally do about 8 songs.
- Pass out the Bible verses and just read and comment on the verses. Since you are probably not a professional preacher then you are going to need help. This will be the Holy Spirits job. Remember, just read and make comments.
- After the Bible reading ask is anyone has a testimony or something that God has done in their life.
- Then do a song or two in closing. We normally do I’ll fly away and then a song like Just as I am.
- Then just close in prayer and you are done.
- After the service stay and talk with people. Let them have all the leftovers. Our people normally take them to people who could not make it to the service.
Remember, keep it simple and casual. Make people feel comfortable. Don’t dress in a suit. If you can’t sit on the ground in the clothes you wear then wear different clothes. Don’t talk down to people. Let them sit in chairs while you sit on the ground or on your guitar case.
Being able to shower regularly helps a person in several ways. First, it is important for personal hygiene reasons. Second, it lifts a person spirits, refreshes them, and gives them a better outlook on life. Third, if you smell nice people will want to be around you more. The problem is, if you don’t have a home, where do you take a shower?
A solar shower is a great solution to this problem. A solar shower is a vinyl bag that holds about 4 – 5 gallons of water. It has a hose and shower head built into it as well as a little cut off valve. They cost about $6 at Academy or Walmart. To use a solar shower you fill it up, let it sit in the sun to warm up, and then take a shower. These are commonly used by campers and also on sailboats. I use one myself when I go sailing and they work very well.
This is something that you would want to offer to homeless camps. I normally get them two. They often use one for showers and the other for washing dishes. A backpack is a great way to transport a full shower bag to camp from a water source.
I have yet to have a person that lives on the street refuse a clean pair of socks. People that are homeless tend to walk a lot. Also, when it rains their clothes,shoes and socks often get wet. It is for these reasons that a ministry that provides socks and shoes to the homeless is a great idea.
Socks can be new or used (freshly washed). They don’t need to be expensive. Keep in mind that a homeless person does not have a washer and dryer so the socks may be discarded after a few days.
Shoes are also a must. Getting the correct size is the problem. Size 8 – 12 is common. Basic used tennis shoes or sneakers are fine. Garage sales, thrift stores or flea markets are good places to look. You should be able to pick them up for a few dollars a pair. If you get canvas shoes you can run them through the wash. Otherwise you can use Lysol to disinfect them before giving them to someone.
This would be a great ministry for a group of people that wanted to pool their resources and collect shoes and socks. If this works out then you can always move into a clothing ministry as well.
A backpack is almost a necessity for a homeless man or woman. Especially if they are traveling. They allow a person to comfortably carry their belongings from place to place. Also, if you are providing sun showers (4-5 gallon) then a backpack is a great way to transport that back to camp full of water for a shower.
Backpacks can be purchased at garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets as well as on sale in the store. This is not something that you have to pay full price for since they are so readily available used. The kind your kids use for school is fine. You almost can’t go wrong.
Prices in the store are from $8 and up so used they would be very affordable. Just keep a supply in your trunk and when you talk with a person and feel like they might need one then provide that to them along with a survival guide and a New Testament.