ESSEX — Bringing forth new meaning to its mission to share the love of God with others, Essex-based volunteer organization Churches for Streets of Hope now has a community care center at Boulevard Christian Church to provide ongoing case management and overnight shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
Dedication of the space in a ceremony on Nov. 9 at the center’s host church took place on the heels of the tenth anniversary of the organization, which is supported by several area churches.
“With the help of God and all of the churches that have volunteered, (the development of) this center has come to fruition,” Barbara Nock, president of the organization’s board of directors, said at the ceremony.
“Based on our perception of time, it has been a long time coming,” Gail Button, pastor of one of the partnering churches Orems United Methodist, said in a sermon she gave at the ceremony. “But God’s timing is not our timing. God’s ways are not our ways.”
Button read from the Bible story of Lazarus in the Book of John, in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. When he had left the tomb, his hands and feet were bound with strips of cloth, and Jesus said to “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Jesus’ words in the story remind her that “God is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think,” she said, referencing a Bible verse from the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Prayer, she added, plays an “integral role” in seeking to unbind others whom the organization serves, and she then called upon God to unbind them from fear, judgment, a place of lack, hunger, hopelessness and homelessness.
“Unbind them, and let them go,” the people at the ceremony said after Button listed off each prayer request.
A man named Chaz Gray, who the organization helped to unbound from challenges in his own life, gave a testimony to its success at the ceremony.
“It is a wonderful program. (The volunteers) don’t judge you; they just clothe you, feed you, house you and help you with anything you could possibly need,” Gray said, adding that the organization helped him get a driver’s license and other documents.
Otis Trawally, director of operations for the organization, said that he is glad that he has the opportunity to continue serving others in this new space.
“It gives me a lot of joy,” he said, “and I have a peaceful rest at night knowing that I am supporting other people in need.”
In an SED Media video shot and produced for the dedication of the center, Boulevard Christian Church pastor Ken White said that each of the partnering churches come together for the same purpose – to tell others about the love of Jesus.
“(Churches for Streets of Hope) not only feeds people food, but we feed them the Gospel, too,” he said.