The quaint church on 200 South is more than just a place of worship. It's an opportunity for homeless individuals to find food, clothing, comfort, couseling and recreation. A place where many homeless individuals have turned their lives arouond.
For nearly 10 years the Spectacular Ministries of the Lord's Servants has facilitated services to the homeless at the Ministries Fellowship Center, 468 W. 200 South. Every day volunteers for the church/day shelter help men, women and families by providing for their basic needs and helping them find a permanent job or home, said Wayne Wilson pastor and director of Ministries Fellowship Center."We see changes in people all the time," said Wilson. "Little by little God gets through to them, and they make changes in their lives. No one is perfect and often they fall back into old habits, but we keep with them until they work things out."
James Welch is just one of many who has turned to the church for help and ended up helping others. Nearly six months ago, Welch made a nightly trip to the center but not for food or clothing. As a drug addict, he would park in front of the church hoping to avoid police, Welch said.
"It was a safe haven when I was too high," he said. "I was drawn there when I was paranoid."
Later, he entered the church and realized he had serious problems. Through private counseling from Wilson and a determination to regain a normal life, Welch hasn't taken drugs for more than four months.
"The Lord drew me to this place and kept me drug-free," he said. "I've learned how to just forget about things and control my temper."
Welch has been volunteering at the center for the past four months and has helped others to break their addictions. His involvement with counseling, cleaning and comforting individuals and his future plans to create more opportunities to help the homeless have given him a new and better outlook on life, he said.
"Now, I counsel people about problems. I am trusted more than others because I know all the homeless," he said. "I'm still the same person I was before, but I'm living proof that it's possible to get off drugs."
The church welcomes anyone in need of assistance. A majority of people are men; while women, families and disabled are also found at the center. Winter months bring as many as 1,000 homeless people a day to the center, Wilson said. Summer numbers decrease with 200 to 300 people seeking the services provided at the church. Whether it's a cup of coffee, the location of other public services, information on available jobs or Bible classes, the church is often filled to the brim with individuals needing help.
"The only way the homeless problem will go away is if we get involved and let it go away," he said. "A lot of people, with God's help, get their lives back together and go back to their homes and families."
Volunteers spend more than eight hours daily counseling, feeding and coordinating activities for the hundreds of homeless individuals. Volunteers also recruit local organizations to donate money and food.
"We're a poor ministry and have to do a lot of approaching," he said. "No one gets paid, it's all volunteer work. There is never enough funds to get everything we need, but we do the best we can with what we have."
Finding enough money to implement new programs and activities is often difficult, but fund-raisers and other organizations help contribute to program. Earlier last month, a concert was held at the Capitol cafeteria to benefit the center's newest program, a "sobriety camp."
The camp began Aug. 5 and was to involve 30 days of hiking, fishing, rock climbing, exploring, Bible studies, devotionals and lots of eating, Wilson said. Sobriety camp was designed for homeless people with drug additions or alcohol problems, Wilson said. The dry-out detoxification trip will be held at Moon Lake, where Welch will take charge of many of the activities.
"It's for people who really want to get their lives straight," he said. "And to show them that they're not down for the count, that God really can change their lives."
An activity that often attracts a crowd is the "homeless baseball team," he said. As a part of the church league, the team consists of 11 homeless men and women who must adhere to strict rules. There is no swearing or uncontrolled behavior allowed or the team will forfeit.
"We're in last place but having fun," he said. "We make activities to bring out their abilities. A lot of people feel defeated, and we're really trying to motivate them."