The Mission’s Prayer Ministry Team seeks to “carry each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Looking to Christ and the breathtaking example of His life, they pursue ways to love others practically by telling them about Jesus’s love and connecting them to available resources. Most of the guests they minister to are not experiencing homelessness, but are in a lower income bracket or dealing with a temporary life crisis that they need help navigating.
Perhaps the most visible area of this ministry is in the dining hall (“at the tables”) during lunch. These volunteers meet with guests as they eat, learn the stories of their lives, discover appropriate ways to lighten their load when possible, and offer to pray with them. They are alert for ways in which they might introduce Jesus into the conversations and into people’s lives, and are ready to pray with guests on the spot.
Colleen Homon started volunteering in 2015. A friend of her shared her own experience as a volunteer, so Colleen jumped in and started serving in the kitchen. Eventually, a staff member invited her to join the Prayer Ministry Team and come to the tables during lunch to talk with guests. She was excited and grateful for the opportunity. “I have fallen so in love with Jesus,” she explains. “He has changed my life and I’m so grateful for his mercy and grace. I have a really deep desire for others to know of His love, His forgiveness, and His faithfulness also.”
During her time on the team, she has seen many lives changed by the love of Jesus. She remembers a man who came to the Mission for lunch recently. He arrived from out of town and told Colleen, “I literally just have the shirt on my back and I am staying in a shelter.” She took him to Rescued Treasures across the parking lot where he chose some clothing, and also gathered up some personal care items for him while she shared information about local resources. She sensed that he was eager to learn more.
After discovering more about his life, Colleen asked him if he believed in Jesus. “I’ll never forget how he looked at me and asked, ‘I don’t know what to believe. What do you believe?’” She told him the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and prayed with him. As he returned daily for warm meals, she also continued to provide information about where he might look for employment, introduced him to Outreach Coordinator Teri Kwiatek, and invited him to Bible study and church at Downtown Christian Fellowship.
Much to her delight, the man started attending Bible study and church weekly. One day he announced that he was offered a job, but he was going to have to leave home between 3-4am for the long walk to work. Teri made a few calls to see if she could locate a bicycle for him. The response was overwhelming! Not only did someone immediately provide a bike for him, but a helmet and a bike lock as well. He is continuing to do well and was so grateful when Teri gave him a Bible of his own recently.
This is just one practical and compelling example of what it looks like to “carry” another person’s “burden.” One Christian author observes, “You cannot help with a burden unless you come very close to the burdened person, standing virtually in their shoes, and putting your own strength under the burden so its weight is distributed on both of you, lightening the load of the other. So in the same way, a Christian must listen and understand, and…take up some of the burden with the other person.”1
And as Colleen and the other members of the team seek to help carry other’s burdens, they affirm the words of Jesus when He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). They are richly blessed through serving others.
“The staff and volunteers [at the Mission] are like family,” says Colleen. “We encourage, support, and pray with each other. I love them and I love serving the Lord alongside of them. I am humbled, I am blessed, and I am grateful to be part of the Body of Christ and to be given so many opportunities to plant seeds and then watch the Lord work in people’s lives.” And we find rest in Him, knowing that He is changing lives now and for eternity.
- Tim Keller, Galatians For You (Charlotte, NC: The Good Book Company, 2013), 169.