What I’m interested in seeing you do is: Sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad. —Isaiah 58:7
To be homeless in Minnesota is not just a reality for many, but a brutal and potentially deadly reality given our harsh climates. Every three years, the Wilder Foundation engages in a mass canvas interview process on one given day to establish what is called the “Point-in-Time Count.” This is to gain a measure of the current level of Minnesota homelessness. On October 25th, 2018, the last “Pit-Count” by Wilder revealed data of over 4,000 homeless in Hennepin County alone.
Homelessness occurs for many reasons: loss of jobs, mental health, lack of support networks, family crises, unaccompanied youth lacking a safety-net, domestic violence, among other reasons. Homelessness in Minnesota affects children, youth, the aged, veterans, and all races. The recent COVID pandemic, as well as the tragic death of George Floyd and subsequent unrest in the Twin Cities, have contributed to the ongoing problem. It is not just up to governments and social agencies to help address the problem, it is a call to the church by Jesus himself to care for the poor (Matthew 25:31-46).
We Can Make a Difference
Elim Church in northeast Minneapolis is a community that has responded to the call in ministering to their neighborhood. Elim Church refers to itself as “Oasis in the City,” applying Elim’s name from the imagery of Exodus 15 and the safe haven provided for the Israelites during the Exodus.
Several years ago, Elim began a church ministry called “Hope Avenue.” Specifically, Hope Avenue is a direct outreach to the homeless in the vicinity of northeast Minneapolis. Elim Church currently networks with various agencies and ministry partners to transition people out of homelessness and into stable housing.
Also, with the help of volunteers to support ministry staff, a typical Hope Avenue Sunday morning has included a full breakfast, hot showers, clothing room, hygiene essentials, foot and hair care, along with other assisting agencies present at the church to assist with needs of the homeless population. On any given Sunday, Hope Avenue ministry has meant an outreach to 150-200 people coming through the doors from 7:15-10:00 am. It is sharing the love of Jesus with tangible care and listening ears!
In fact, this past year, Elim, along with another nearby church, was awarded a grant that enabled the creation of a temporary shelter, fully staffed, to house homeless people during the cold winter months into early spring 2020. Elim continues to be just that, an oasis in the City!
Where Does Westbrook Fit In?
Elim Church has put the welcome mat out to Westbrook Church for volunteers who may carry the same burden to reach out to the homeless through Hope Avenue Sunday outreach. Though COVID-19 restrictions have meant a different ministry landscape at Elim without full use of the facilities on Sundays, meals are still being provided, and clothing essentials are also made available from approximately 7 am-9:30 am on Sunday mornings!
Yes, to get downtown to the northeast side and set up by 7 am does mean an early and long Sunday of service and worship. If serving the needs of the inner-city homeless has been increasingly on your heart, we would love to talk with you more to tell you what is going on and how to be involved. We encourage you to let one of the Westbrook staff know or contact us directly.
Thanks for reading!
Mark and Lorae McKeever email@example.com