Serving the poor is paramount to the Christian faith. Jesus taught his followers to do it (Mt 19:21, Mt 25:39, Lk 11:41), the apostles and early Christians practiced it (Ac 9:36, Ac 10:4, Ro 15:26, Ga 2:10), and it is still central to the practice of the Church today. The disciples of the DFW Church share the same heart. They serve in poor outreach projects that have become staples such as our continuous partnership with HOPE worldwide, our work with the community around the Larry Johnson Center through Saturday Academy and Thanksgiving pancake breakfast, Christmas toy drive for the Boys and Girls Club, and our yearly mission trip to work at orphanages and the poor in Mexico. In addition to these projects, they have taken up the good work of serving the homeless in their neighborhoods and cities.
The Southwest region has been partnering with the Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth to serve the homeless. The Presbyterian Night Shelter, located near downtown Fort Worth, provides meals, beds, and basic human care to an average of 704 homeless men and women a night. The Church volunteers at the Safe Haven building which is a shelter for the mentally ill, and the Lowdon-Schutts building which houses homeless women and their children. Jason Lugo, the sector minister for the West said, “We are very humbled by the work that the night shelter is doing to help the homeless in Fort Worth and we are very grateful to be able to partner with them. I’m also encouraged by the hearts of the disciples here to serve the poor.” Ray Burns and the Baars house church have also been serving the homeless in their neighborhoods in Richland Hills and North Fort Worth. “To be honest,” Jason said, “I didn’t even know there were homeless this close to our neighborhoods. I knew they were in the shelters we were serving in, but when I found out that there were homeless living in the bridges I drove under every day I was surprised and also saddened.”
The Baars house church and the Southwest region has been able to impact the local homeless by providing temporary shelter, food, clothing, blankets, and most importantly love. They’ve also been able to help some on a personal level by reuniting them with loved ones, helping them to get paperwork to start working again, and glasses. When asked what he thought the most important work the church is doing for the homeless, Ray said, “That we are opening our eyes to that need, and we are now looking for ways to serve those needs. I think what they want more than anything else is companionship; for people to treat them as human beings rather than just homeless people.”
Jason said, “What I’m very excited about with the work we’re doing here very locally is the relationships we are building with the homeless here. We are building a friendship. They give me a hard time for being a Cowboys fan and they love it when we visit where they’re living. I think they really enjoy having guests over more than the food or gifts we bring. We’re praying for guidance on how we can help them better their condition, but regardless, we know we must love them. They are our neighbors.”
In the Northwest Region many of our members have been partnering with the Main Street Church of Christ on a regular basis for the past year in serving the homeless in the downtown Dallas area by serving lunches on Sundays. About 400 meals are served to the poor and senior citizens the best meal some of them will have all week. This ministry has also been a great tool to involve our friends that we are reaching out to. Bradford Sylve and John Jackson of the Southwest Region have been helping to coordinate a Thanksgiving lunch outreach this Thanksgiving, since we will not be having the pancake breakfast this year. Those who would like to serve the Main Street folks this Thanksgiving should contact Ted Snow at 214.415.7885. Volunteers should be at the Main Street Church by 11am.
We are also about to kick off our second year of HomelessPartners Christmas Project, which provides an opportunity for our members to personally connect with the homeless in the downtown Dallas area and provide much needed items for living on the streets. Unlike most Christmas Tree projects, HomelessPartners presents a unique opportunity to interview the homeless, and provide genuine interest and a listening ear. To read some of their stories and make some of their wishes come true, go to www.homelesspartners.com. You’ll read about their story, how long they have been on the street, what challenges they have had and what encourages them the most. In 2009 over 400 gifts were given, which included socks, shoes, backpacks and even a few bus tickets home to visit their families.