The following post was written by Jennie Smith, Gateway member, Bible study teacher, and Prayer Ministry Team leader.
In August 2015, W.O.W. began praying about taking on a project to provide bedding (a set of sheets, a pillow and a blanket) for 50 beds at a homeless shelter in Memphis called “Restoration House.” The project became known as “Adopt-a-Bed” with the idea of asking 50 individuals to “adopt” one bed for a $20 donation. We prayed to the LORD asking Him to provide $1,000 to do this. The project was undergirded by Deut. 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore, I command you to be open-handed toward…the poor and need in your land.”
During the period Sept. 12 through Oct. 28th, donations (money and materials) came pouring in basically by word-of-mouth from members of Gateway and through people in other churches and areas of the country. Nothing was counted during that time because we believed that whatever was donated was exactly what GOD wanted the project to have. We were good with that.
Finally, on Oct. 29th, two days before going to the shelter, a group from W.O.W counted what we had. We needed 50 sets of sheets; GOD provided 75. We needed 50 blankets; He provided 40. We needed 50 pillows; He provided 27. In addition, He provided: 56 washcloths, 9 towels, 100+ pairs of socks, underwear, and hundreds of bars of soap. Do the math and it is conservatively estimated that the LORD provided $1,800+ in donations alone! Then, to top it off, He provided $734 in monetary donations which was used to purchase additional blankets and pillows, towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, chapstick, personal hygiene items, and Kleenex. We were asking for $1,000 and the LORD provided over $2,500…super-abundantly more than we had asked! The LORD met and exceeded our expectations!!!
Fast forward to Saturday, Oct. 31st.
It was raining but the LORD slowed the rain long enough for us to load two trucks and two cars with all of the donations. We arrived at the shelter and quickly filled a storage room to overflowing with His provision. A man named Earl was overseeing the unloading. After it was completed, he shared something with me. Two weeks prior to Saturday, he told the pastor who is in charge that the shelter was not ready for winter. The pastor told him they needed to pray. They did. As he was sharing this story, Earl looked down and then looked up with a huge smile, and said, “Now we are ready for winter.” Praise the LORD for knowing in August that in mid-October two men would be praying that the shelter be ready for winter and that the “Adopt-a-Bed” project would be the vehicle through which their prayers were answered.
Some women from W.O.W. graciously volunteered to prepare home-cooked food to serve the shelter’s residents. The LORD load 32-feet of table space with HIS bounty! Chicken-and-rice, chili, greens, veggies, meats, cheeses, bread, crackers…the list goes on! The residents ate to their heart’s content and so did many other people who came in off the streets. Filled to overflowing! Praise the God of much-more!
As the residents feasted, we walked among the tables, talking with each person, getting more food for them, refilling their drinks, sitting alongside them, learning more about them. There was laughter and smiles everywhere.
Debbie Shay’s 9-year old granddaughter Lilly went with us to the shelter. On Thursday evening, Lilly asked her grandmother if she could give a Bible to someone. Lilly and I chose five Bibles from my “stash”. Lilly was encouraged to let the LORD lead her to the person He wanted to have a Bible. Lilly listened to the LORD’s prompting and gave the first Bible to a man with whom I had had a conversation earlier. He shared with me how the Word had changed his life and what it meant to him. The only problem was he didn’t have a Bible. I didn’t share this with Lilly. The LORD did though. Lilly listened to the LORD, obeyed Him, and now this man, C.J., has a Bible. He left the shelter later cradling the Bible in his arms.
Lilly also gave a Bible to a man named Melvin. We saw him sitting on a ledge next to a wall holding it in his hands and slowly turning the pages. Tears welled up in his eyes. He was so grateful!
We came alongside the residents and prayed with them. We met one man, a double-amputee, whose infectious smile warmed our hearts. We met a young woman who is within two weeks of giving birth to a little boy. We met a woman whose COPD racked her body with coughing fits and we rubbed her back and sang songs with her. We met two young women who had written a song which they sang for us. The song was thanking the LORD for everything.
Elizabeth and one of the residents led the group in song as we sang, “This Little Light of Mine”, “Jesus Loves Me”, and “Amazing Grace”. As I looked at the group, I saw Gateway’s group so closely intertwined with the residents that we were all one in Christ. The body of Christ praising His name. Amen!
The time came to say good-bye to our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Huge smiles, heart-felt hugs, and hearty handshakes were exchanged. There were tears shed too. Tears of joy for how GOD moved, for how GOD was glorified, for how the name of Jesus was lifted up that day.
And that’s not the end of the story.
Remember the $734 collected? Well, $200 of that total was given to the project by Gateway’s Missions Ministry. After all was said and done we were unable to spend all the money that was donated so we returned the $200 to the Missions Ministry on Sunday. They, in turn, were able to pass it along on Monday to another project in need of support.
Praise be to HIM who IS ABLE to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than we could EVER imagine!!!!