After a successful first year program from December 2013 through mid-March, the Compassionate Hands shelter program for Lebanon’s homeless men, women and children is gearing up for the coming winter.
Coinciding with the worst winter in 30 years, the eight participating churches provided a warm, safe place to sleep along with a hot supper and a breakfast in the morning for a total of 444 “bed nights” for guests. Each church sheltered on their own night each day of the week. There were seven churches for men and Cross Style Nazarene sheltered the women every night as well as being the site for the evening meal, according to Stephen Wheeley, one of the ministry’s organizers.
“To ease their load we are seeking seven churches for women, one each night, and already have two that have joined us. We know there are five more churches in the Lebanon / Mt Juliet area who could fill the need, one night a week, for those in our community in the direst straits imaginable,” Wheeley said.
On Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., a meeting will be held at College Hills Church of Christ to continue organizing for the winter.
“We pray that pastors or mission leaders from any and all interested churches would attend to learn what our ministry does and how it operates,” said Wheeley. “College Hills will have their shelter set up to show first hand how simple this program is to do for most any size church. We based our efforts on the highly successful “ Room at the Inn “ system started in Nashville over 20 years ago.
“This is a ministry to keep people alive during dangerous weather, not an evangelizing, rehab, jobs training or other such effort, although we will direct our guests to such programs run by others if they wish.
“Being a faith based system however, we do endeavor to show Christ’s love at all times to those we assist and were blessed last year with several who came to Him during their time with us,” added Wheeley.
The program’s current host churches are College Hills, Cook’s United Methodist, Cross Style Nazarene, Fairview Baptist, First Presbyterian, First UMC, Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian, New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian, The Salvation Army and Westland UMC (in union with Faith Lutheran).
“As you can see, we are from all denominations and all sizes, working together as One Body in One Spirit. I ask the many other fine churches to join with us, as the need is greater than many imagine in our area, as shown by how many times last winter, 444, someone was warm, dry and fed instead of cold, wet and hungry,” said Wheeley.
If you cannot attend but are interested, contact either Pastor John Grant at College Hills at 444-9502 or Wheeley at 513-9062 (daytime phone).