“When I was 18 I met a guy who was doing homeless ministry and I helped him. I was a Christian who wanted to live my faith out. I didn’t want to just show up to church on Sunday’s, but but live like Jesus did, going out to the ‘Highways and byways’ and go out to the poor, the crippled, the lame and the broken.
“Then Paul (Hulse, founder of Haven Beat the Streets Ministries) showed up to my church and I heard about what he was doing here helping the homeless, so I showed up to minster to people here. It is really eye-opening. I weekly stay over night at the blue code warming center, and you see people who live in your town that are having such troubles, that are having these difficulties. We are so used to our normal lives of going to school or to work, and we don’t have the troubles of not being able to get shelter.
“We put a label on people like, ‘Homeless,’ and I think that the label gets imprinted on their foreheads, and then people who are homeless take that as their identity. But when you spend time with them, you see that everyone is a normal person. Most people here were not born into this situation. A lot of them have degrees, have had families, have done amazing things in their lives, but they have had a week where they couldn’t put up enough for rent and had fallen into a hole they could not get out of.
The biggest thing is a lot of people say, ‘Help the homeless,’ but for me it has changed from ‘Help the homeless,’ to ‘Help Joe. Help Dave, help Michelle.’ These are real people with real names. These are the people Jesus especially went out to, and being with them reminds of when Jesus would look out at the crowds, and he would have compassion on them. A real deep, visceral compassion. And I experience that when I am here.
~ Warming Center, Toms River