St. John's UMC: Serving the Bride of Life
By Mia Evans-Saracual
The 700 Club
St. John’s United Methodist Church offers a safe haven for the homeless in Houston, Texas. When Rudy and Juanita Rasmus started pastoring the church downtown, they saw a problem they couldn’t ignore.
“That was probably one of the most shocking things to me 17 years ago when we literally had to step over a homeless person who was sleeping in the doorway to get into the church,” Juanita says. “When we stepped in, God said, ‘This is your ministry.’”
With just nine church members, St. John’s began reaching out to the homeless through its Bread of Life ministry.
“That one meal a week really evolved into a church, a ministry and a movement that serves homeless people seven days a week,” says Rudy.
Today, 9,000 people attend St. John’s. One-third of them is homeless or were homeless at some point in their lives. Singer and actress Beyonce Knowles is also a member of St. John’s. The pop star is a major contributor to Bread of Life’s new housing development through her Survivor Foundation. The apartment building, just a few blocks from the church, is now under construction.
Dena Gray, Executive Director for Bread of Life, says, “The people who live [at the Knowles-Rowland Temenos Place Apartments] cannot only live there, pay their rent and maintain a level of independence, but we’re also there in a support sense.”
New residents are scheduled to move in August of 2009. Bread of Life’s impact on the community doesn’t stop there.
Juanita says, “We provide services to those who are hungry as well as providing support, testing and counseling for HIV and AIDS.”
“We have a15-passenger van,” explains Amber David, Coordinator for Project C.O.P.E. “We go out to neighborhoods, and we will do AIDS testing on the spot.”
Bread of Life serves 7,000 meals each month. Tedric Williams says, “It’s the only place I have to eat sometimes. I know what it’s like to be hungry, and I appreciate a hot meal.”
Harold Foster concurs, “This place was really a blessing in disguise, because I was right outside the door here. I can come in, wash my clothes, make telephone calls and eat.”
Through a partnership with the Houston Food Bank, the ministry distributes nine tons of food to the hungry each week.
Doretha Arthur says, “I run out of food, and this helps a whole lot. My little grandson stays with me, and I can come down here to get milk.”
“Jesus said, ‘Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto Me,’” reminds Rudy.
For your outreach to the homeless, the hungry and the hurting, we honor you, St. John’s United Methodist Church. You are America’s Church of the Week.
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