Ministry to homeless people can look as simple and beautiful as believers (and not-yet believers) gathering together to study God’s Word and talk through issues of dignity and hope. As you read Pastor Jeremy Tuinstra’s story, you will see how he is doing biblical counseling in his church. Please join us in prayer for this church—and for many other churches that seek to reach out to the needy people. Pray the church will grow in skill and wisdom. Pray for fruitfulness, for lives changed by the gospel.
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At Redemption Community Church (Burtonsville, MD) we have been blessed with a unique opportunity to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ among homeless people in our community. Discovering that relational poverty is at the core of homelessness, we want to follow hard after Jesus by offering ourselves and commending our Savior to our homeless friends in the context of redemptive relationships. Homeless people are unique in that their problems are obvious and intense because they have fallen through the cracks, both socially and economically. This is ministry that gets messy!
We live with a sense of urgency—sprinting alongside of the people we minister to in order to prevent them from losing their battle with hopelessness. But we also want to run the marathon with them—taking the time to get to know them in order to bring lasting hope in a relevant way. CCEF’s materials are grounding us to walk alongside of people who are struggling with self-destructive and abusive habits and helping us with long-term concerns, like restoring people’s sense of dignity by pointing them to Christ and their identity as God’s image-bearers.
CCEF materials have been crucial to my continuing education goals and ministry strategies for the past several years. I have read nearly every book written by CCEF authors, including the majority of the mini-books. I have facilitated Bible studies using How People Change and Addictions—A Banquet In The Grave. Long-time church members learn alongside people just coming to terms with the message of hope in Jesus. Because of the gospel, normal sin struggles are radicalized and radical sin struggles are normalized. Gospel transformation is advancing!
I began pursuing further training for the congregation and for me through CCEF because of the number and complexity of life-impacting troubles our homeless friends face. What a world of bad and sad, sin and suffering: addictions, sexual sin and abuse, codependency, anger, mental illness, family of origin struggles, incarceration, divorce, loneliness, stress, and more. Ignorance of the gospel and indifference to the implications of the gospel for meaningful life changes are the biggest challenges. But CCEF materials consistently demonstrate and inspire confidence in Jesus for honestly facing those challenges.
As our congregation started to engage this relationally intense ministry, it became clear to many of us that homeless people were not the only significantly broken people in the room. So, for example, while my wife and I were receiving training to strengthen ourselves for ministry “in the deep end of the pool” with our homeless friends, we were also receiving ministry for our own personal transformation and encouragement. We praise God for CCEF resources that help us address our own big-ugly-monster-of-a-sinful-heart with the hope of the gospel!
Jeremy J. Tuinstra