Monday, December 14, 2009
Handing Out Hope in Philly
As I was looking back on the summer here at CSM Philly I felt that there was a void and that we missed something. We had some great groups that learned all about the city, themselves, and how to serve others but there was a richness that was missing. The thing that was missing was Joetta & Roy from Hands of Hope ministry.
We have worked with Hands of Hope ministry from the start of CSM Philly in 2002. It has impacted the groups in some deep ways. Hands of Hope Ministry was founded by Joetta and she is and has always been the only employee. Her job is to minister to the people who live on the streets and at times be nothing more than a friend or a hug. The closest thing Hands of Hope has as a second employee is Roy. When I think of Roy my heart fills with joy.
Roy lives on the streets and, in my view, is an urban prophet. When the groups serve with Hands of Hope they make bag lunches and travel around the city handing out lunches but more importantly they talk and pray with the folks on the street. Our first stop is always Roy and Roy blows them away. They approach Roy a little scared and hoping he will receive the lunch they have prepared for him but they end up getting more from Roy than they could ever give him. Roy gives them a challenging sermon and blows their stereotypes of homeless people out of the water. I always get the question “Why is Roy homeless?” and I always say, “I am not sure how he became homeless but I am sure if he really wanted to get off the streets he could but he sees this as a ministry and challenges people’s faith and changes the way they stereotype homeless people.
Over the past year Joetta has experienced one hardship after another and was unable to take our groups out to Hand of Hope. Groups missed out on one of the most challenging and impacting ministries that we work with. This past October, we were getting all our tithe appointments together and got cool little gum-ball machines as gifts to give to the volunteer coordinators. To our surprise we were able to get ahold of Joetta and set up a meeting with her.
In the past, we have always taken Joetta out to lunch and have Roy join us, when he can. So on a Friday in October we pulled up to TGIF to have lunch with Roy and Joetta. As we sat around the table with them it felt like a family reunion. Joetta and Roy have both impacted my life in ways they will never know and to be able to fellowship with them again filled a void in my heart. When we got to the time to present Joetta with a gift and donation she was so surprised. She said “I didn’t think I would be getting any of this stuff this year because I didn’t take out any groups this summer”. I told her “One summer of not taking groups doesn’t change our relationship at all, we are here to come along side you and help you through these tough times.”
At that point I knew why I worked for CSM and how they care so much for the people in the city. A couple of weeks ago a group got to serve alongside Hands of Hope with Joetta and Roy had a sermon ready for them.
-Justin Perry, CSM Philadelphia City Director
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