Posted by: Emily Shemwell | March 22, 2010

March Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

Winter can be a difficult time for many people physically and emotionally. The freezing temperatures, the increased hours of dark skies, and the enhanced susceptibility to the thousands of colds and infections can affect anyone. When you camp in the woods or sleep on a thin mattress in a crowded emergency shelter, these characteristics of winter can be even more daunting.

During February, I saw the effects the brutally cold weather has on our homeless guests. The looming chill of the crisp air brought fierce attitudes, dynamic personalities, and short tempers. While students got out of school to enjoy the winter wonderland covering the city, I was behind a counter receiving demands and questions from sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated men and women. Meaningful conversations were rare, as more and more homeless folks came to use our services and fewer volunteers were able to help with 6-7 inches of snow and ice on the ground.

After two challenging weeks, I began to question my calling. “Lord, why am I serving here? What is my purpose?” These questions penetrated me day after day, leaving me uncertain and searching for answers. My heart became feeble. My mind wanted clarity. My soul longed for peace. I was tired – tired of serving, tired of giving, tired of loving, tired of taking on the burdens of others, and tired of bearing my own burdens. I was tired and stuck.

Thankfully, March came with warmer temperatures and sunshine (praise God for sunshine!) However, questions and uncertainty still ran through my body. The enemy was attacking me and he wouldn’t let up. Finally, after days of wandering around in confusion, I realized the problem: it was me. I told God I would go wherever He called me. He called me to the inner city of Louisville and I followed Him. He would sustain me, but I had to fully rely on Him. Recently, I had tried to do life on my own and I was failing miserably. I was not coming before my Father in prayer regularly. I was not keeping my eyes focused on Him.

In the midst of my exhaustion, I started waking up early to spend quality time in prayer with my Lord before leaving to serve at Jeff. Street. Even though I was weary and weak, I continued to dive in to His Word, seeking His wisdom and guidance, and being filled with His promises. Gradually, I am seeing God answer my questions and restore my heart, soul, and mind to the place He’s called me to for such a time as this. My prayer to see Christ in those I’m serving is being answered as He reminds me of my purpose and mission through the faces I see at the shelter and in my neighborhood.

It is faces like the one of Amy, a middle-aged Day Shelter guest, who I first met this summer. My eyes saw her face the other day, for the first time in a few weeks, as she stood in line for a bowl of cereal. When the first free moment came, I went out and sat beside Amy in the cafeteria. My hand rested on her knee as I looked into her eyes, one of them wearing a black and blue bruise. As I inquired about her black eye, a stream of tears flowed down her cheek as she unveiled the details. Amy recently broke up with her boyfriend because he is an alcoholic and is violent. She left him for her safety, yet she couldn’t get away from him. He came to her small apartment the other night and beat her up when she didn’t comply with his requests. Two days later, he did the same thing again, forcing Amy to give up her place and go back to an emergency shelter so her ex-boyfriend couldn’t harm her again.

As I listened to her story, my heart broke for her. In her weathered and bruised face, I was reminded of my mission: to serve “the least of these” in both word and deed. I was reminded that I am to let Christ’s love and hope overflow from me as I love, encourage, and pray for women like my friend Amy.

Even though I continue to try, I can’t do life, or this mission, on my own. I cannot continue my mission without coming before God first, seeking Him, being filled with His Love, and renewed in His grace. I cannot continue my mission without the Christian community I have in my teammates, Jeff. Street staff members and Sojourn church family. I cannot continue my mission without your faithful prayers, encouraging cards, and gracious financial contributions. Thank you for your unconditional support. Thank you for helping make my mission possible.

“All who are weak, and all who are weary,

Come to the Rock, come to the Fountain.

All who have climbed on mountains of heartache,

Reach to the sky, come on and give you life.

If you lead me Lord, I will follow.

Where you lead me Lord I will go,

Come and heal me Lord, I will follow.

Where you lead me Lord I will go.

I will go. I will go.”

– “Invitation Fountain” by The Violet Burning

Blessings and Love,



  1. Hey girl! I know the feeling of discouragement and i’m in the same boat at the moment with the ministry im in. Warm weather comes and nobody comes to the programs anymore. Remember that God’s placed you there for a reason! We NEED to get together sometime and catch up. Miss ya and know that i’m praying for you and the ministry.

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