In Missouri, the lead pastor of Joplin First Church of the Nazarene, Shana McGarrah, is opening her church doors to welcome the homeless as frigid cold temperatures threaten their survival. According to CBN News, McGarrah felt her heart breaking as she thought of the people who would be braving the cold huddled up outside, and prepared to offer them warmth, hot meals, a shower, and new clothes in her church. McGarrah’s compassion and the generosity of her congregation are showing their community the power of God’s love.
The idea to open the church as a warming center came to McGarrah as temperatures dropped 50 degrees and a winter storm was on its way. She shares that volunteers searched local trails to find people who were homeless and were “begging” them to go to the church for shelter.
McGarrah shared that “we are called to love people and our neighbors, and [the homeless are] part of that.” She also shared that some of the people they helped had not eaten anything for days or had been eating out of trash cans. With the church there to help, McGarrah said there is no need for that. Local nonprofits have donated food, soap, and clothing to help the church meet the needs of the people they are welcoming.
In addition to providing shelter from the cold, the church also offers to help the homeless find work by preparing for job interviews, getting identification cards such as a driver’s license, and even provides them transportation to get to interviews.
From starting the ministry with just $150, McGarrah called its success a blessing, saying “we just watched God take this, and it just exploded […] People are just excited. We’ve seen God do miracles.” McGarrah thanked the outreach team at her church for their commitment to helping their community members and for being “the hands and feet of Jesus.”