Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Faith Works 2-2-19

Faith Works 2-2-19

Jeff Gill

A warming tale

No church event is over until two pastors are walking around behind
push brooms . . .

Okay, 9 am Thursday and we have shut down our temporary overnight
warming shelter, a pop-up project of local churches working together,
across denominations and traditions, with one holy spirit driving us
all. (Holy? Spirit?) Blessings to Vertical 196 for opening early this
past week, and Newark Naz for doing transport back and forth – it was
so cold Wednesday morning their van wouldn't start, but they Dunkirked
the problem and five drivers later we #GotRDone.

We also got some help taking beau-coup blankets over to the Haven at
St. Vincent De Paul Center Newark, OH, whose blanket stash was empty,
but we were certainly overabundantly blessed at Newark Central
Christian Church. Hundreds of blankets were brought in through the
first night.

What we didn't need: food. Sadly, I had it strongly demonstrated to me
that one major impact of meth is not that it "makes you skinny," but
it does massively depress the hunger instinct (among other things).
Food was not a big item, and we didn't move much of what we had.
Blessings to our friends at the Naz and Brucker and Kishler and John
Edward Price Flowers for dinners, and to Trinity Episcopal and Family
of Faith Community Church for breakfasts (and Pastor John for helping
with final clean-up the first day). We didn't need much in the way of
food, as it turned out. Coffee and lots of sugar and creamer go fast,
and we were all set there.

Did I mention we don't need blankets? Blessings to all the families
and individuals and churches, we didn't get names, no thank you notes
to write I guess, but they came from friends and acquaintances and new
friends I haven't met yet from all over Licking and half of Franklin
County. Truly, God bless you.

Thanks to Licking County EMA and Sean Grady, we got 14 cots, ended up
with 12 filled the first night, and if we had 3 new arrivals (all 12
said "oh yeah, we will come back if we can") on Wednesday night, we
are out of cots. Two guys have sleeping bags we gave them, and they
offered before anyone even asked to sleep on the floor for new people.
No, I'm not crying, you're crying.

(Did I mention the guy who left at 5 am to get to work? And his 8
months pregnant girlfriend who left at 5:15 because she wanted to
stick close to him? Wouldn't take a ride. Nope. One guy the van crews
found getting ready to sleep in his car at the library lot, and asked
him if he wanted to sleep warm. He said "well, yeah!" and came in, got
a cot . . . but ended up sleeping most of the night in a chair, which
seemed weird to me, until I realized: he's been sleeping sitting up
for weeks. It felt more comfortable to him, in the warmth, but sitting
up, like in his car. [sniff]. Did I mention the guy who dug through
all the coats and sweatshirts on offer, found a lone towel, and asked
if we had any washcloths? No, we did not have a single washcloth. A
hundred blankets, no washcloths. "If it's okay, and you have some
scissors?" And this fellow thinking faster than I cuts the towel into
six washcloths. Problem temporarily solved, eh?)

I am so thankful. Thankful for this opportunity to serve in Christ's
name, and for our community to measure with a new angle on things the
need. We had full emergency shelters, and about 20 unsheltered
homeless who needed what we offered in two locations overnight during
this chill interval. We know for sure of two guys the Crossroads
Crusaders took propane to, who stayed out in tents with their dogs. So
the need is there, and it is real. The problems people have that get
them to this place, they too are real, but they have solutions. We can
find them, together.

Let keep working on that. Bless you all who were mindful of us last
week, and who are praying still. All God's people need homes. Now, and

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he
got a little upset when folks said Monday afternoon we just couldn't
come up with a warming shelter for two nights in this community. He's
touchy that way. Tell him what gets under your skin and spirit at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.