Posted by: Brett Duncan | June 24, 2009

June Newsletter

Friends and Family,

For the next 2 ½ months I have volunteered 6 days a week to a program called HOPE (hopeforlouisville.com) at Jefferson Street Baptist Center (jeffersonstreet.org). Jefferson Street Baptist Center is a Christ-centered homeless shelter in Louisville that serves breakfast, operates a day shelter, provides storage space and mailing addresses, and strives to provide a safe, caring environment. HOPE is a program in which young adults like myself donate their time and energies to meeting needs in the community around them simply by refusing to ignore the community around them. Why? Because we feel that this is what we’ve been called to do.

There are 12 HOPE team members. The 5 of us that are male live together in an apartment in the Jefferson Street shelter along with around 30 formerly-homeless residents. Some of the residents in the shelter are in transitional housing until they find a way to get on their feet, others are here permanently. We definitely stick out like sore thumbs but we have a unique opportunity to represent Christ 24 hours a day. And always being in the shelter we are better able to get to know these men and show them that we care what’s going on in their lives. We care because Christ cares.

The day shelter kicks off at 7 (we start at 6:30). All homeless people (unless unruly) are welcome to come in to have breakfast and coffee, take showers, ask for toiletries, use the bathroom, sign up for their turn with washers and dryers, store their belongings in a closet (if room is available), or just sit in to avoid the heat or the rain. We usually have around 200 people per day. Our duties in the day shelter include serving cereal and milk (and ice), making coffee, handing out hygiene items (soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, towels and wash cloths, etc). We also run the storage closet (a place where people can leave their belongings) and the front desk (where people sign in and check their mail). Jefferson Street serves as a mailing address for approximately 1800 people.

Being residents, the 5 of us eat with the residents; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This has been a great time to get to know the men that we are living with. I’ve found that most of the men are extremely honest and open about their lives and their problems. I have already been provided a chance to encourage a man that is valiantly struggling to overcome his addictions and another that is seeking change in his lifestyle. Even normal, everyday conversations can be meaningful to some of these men. The HOPE program truly provides hope to a part of the world that hardly ever has anything to hope for.

I’m extremely excited about the next 2 ½ months and even the rest of my time in Louisville after that. I already see men that I recognize walking around downtown. I know the names and faces of men that the rest of society ignores. I’m sure that in the next two years at the University of Louisville I will run into people that I meet this summer. I’m privileged to have an opportunity to view myself as a missionary in the city I live in. I hope that through this program I learn ways to make an effort to be a Godly part of my community. It takes work, but it’s worth the effort. Investing time in the lives of those around us is life-changing, for them and us. The 5 of us are going to continue a bible study for residents during the mornings. I’ve heard the residents asking about it and am anxious to see what God has in store.

I ask that you all be in prayer for this shelter, the residents, the HOPE team, and the rest of the staff here at Jefferson Street Baptist Center.
• Praise God for the amazing staff and volunteers at Jefferson Street
• Praise God that he provides for ministries like this
• Pray for boldness to share Christ’s love
• Pray that we do not become discouraged
• Pray that we can remain focused and Christ-centered as we interact with our community

If you’d like to donate to support our work this summer any contribution you choose to make would be much appreciated. You can make donations at hopeforlouisville.com or you can follow the instructions below. This shelter is a light in a dark world, helping Louisville’s poor in Christ’s name. I’m blessed to be able to serve here.

Thanks,

Brett Duncan

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