Kim was part of our community for a short, but impactful time. Here’s his story…
I was passing through Atlanta when I met with an unfortunate welcoming committee that mugged me at the bus station. I lost cash, my laptop, 2 cameras and many important papers. For the next 6 weeks I lived at a shelter trying to figure out what I was going to do. In efforts to assist, the shelter sent me here and there, but being Canadian no one seemed able to help. I felt like a piece of meat being shuffled from one venue to another. My mental well being from being mugged as well as my frustration level of not being able to get help weighed heavily on me. I heard of an opportunity to move into a cleaner and better organized shelter at the Salvation Army, it provided 2 weeks of free shelter if they had room. I prayed and asked God to let me get in quickly as they usually have a waiting list. I was the first one in line at 6:00AM the next day hoping to get a bed. Another fellow named John and I got beds that day. We then had to find a way to keep warm and safe until we could enter the shelter at 3:30PM. I told John that I felt in my heart that God was going to lead us to a place with hot coffee. John laughed and said “ya that sounds good.” We started on a very long walk in a direction that I had not ever gone before and it was like God was placing Angels at each corner saying “turn here”, “go straight.”
About 45 minutes later we walked up to a red brick Church. God said to me, “This is it.” So I said to John, “This is where we need to go.” There were 3 men standing in the parking lot. John said, “No! This is not a place for homeless people.” I said, “John, I feel this is where we are to be” and started walking towards the 3 men. John was holding onto my jacket saying, “No, don’t go.” I replied, “John, it is okay let me talk to them.” I went up and said, “Excuse me, but I feel in my spirit that you are serving hot coffee here, is that right?” The men all looked at each other and one man said, “Yes, but I am afraid you are too late.” I said, “Oh, I guess I was not listening to God soon enough.” The man asked where we had come from. I explained to him how we had found our way there. He looked at me and said, “Come on in, we will make a new pot of coffee.”
The place God led us to is called “Retreat,” operated by Church on the Street. I have been here for 3 months and God has shown me a lot of things. I have grown in my faith, knowledge and love of people more than in any other ministry I have been involved with in over 30+ years. The difference I see is in how they choose to build relationships with people and try to be a friend to the friendless, rather than “help” or “fix” people. It is not about handouts, it is about caring for friends. Here they do not act or feel like anyone is homeless, instead they treat all as family members who are in a state of transition. The Bible studies, the heart of the staff, and the ministry are all aligned with scripture and speak volumes of the active vision at work in Church on the Street.
In a matter of a few days I will be back on my way to Venezuela where I had previously served. I will be serving God by teaching ESL, sharing my testimony, and supporting families who have lost their children through abduction into the sex trade. Thank you Pastor Andy, Gary, and Harry for all your support in getting me back on my feet and back on my way. May God bless you all richly!