Project WARM Orientation? Should I go?

?????????????Over the last two years we have come across a number of questions that many of you or your congregations have asked.  This year we are hosting a monthly orientation session to give some really critical updates, as well as share new information. 

Take an hour to hear about:

  •  An introduction to Project WARM
  • A testimony from a previous Project WARM guest
  • What a volunteer does
  •  How to sign up, where to park, review safety
  • Know what to bring and what not to bring
  • Review the newest changes this year regarding food and volunteering
  • Ask questions and get immediate answers

We would love to see you attend our first orientation

 When: November 18th @ 6:30pm

 Where: Hope Ministries @ 432 S. Lafayette Blvd South Bend

 RSVP : CLICK HERE

“Can I Sing It?” – A Testimony from Project WARM

musicpagebesetfreejesusSomeone shared this testimony from last year, and it was incredible. Read below:

As I was walking through the room to one of the tables around dinner time, a man I’ll call Vincent lying on a mat spoke out to get my attention. I hadn’t met him before but he said, “Excuse me, I wondered if I could get some prayer.”

Who could refuse that! “Sure, I’d love to pray with you. He got up and we went to sit in the back corner on a pew where it was more private. He told me he had been saved a long time ago, but had fallen into bad habits. He hadn’t been living for God and couldn’t get out of the rut he was in. We talked about his life. Although he’d come to know God, he still enjoyed sin. He didn’t want to, but he did. I explained that sometimes we come to Christ but never really understand who we are IN Christ, so we bring out old life into our new life.

Then, he told me he wanted to sing me something for me. He said, “I believe this is true. Can I sing it? I need you to hear it.” I wish I could remember the words, but He began singing a song about being free in Christ. It was beautiful. “He looked at me with hopeful eyes and said, “It’s true. Isn’t it?” He looked at me wanted to confirm that it was. I smiled and said, “It is. If you believe in Christ, it is true.”

“If it is true, then why do I still like the sinful stuff I’m doing?” He explained that He used to love to sing gospel songs and he just couldn’t get out from under the weight of what he’d been living like. He didn’t think he was worthy of God anymore, but the words of that song were hope to him.

Jesus hung out where it seemed like there was no hope for anyone, but there is always hope, I explained.  “We don’t clean up to come to God. We come to God and he cleans us up!”

He paused for a moment, then with a new smile on his face, he said, “That is just what I needed to hear! I’ve never heard it put like that!”

“If you want to change, then you can. Let’s just start over, that’s repentance. You just need to change your thinking? What you sang is true. You just have to believe it. How about if you just recommit your life to God.”

“Yes, could we do that?”

“The Word says that when we come to Him he makes ALL things new, so let’s take Him up on that promise.” We prayed and just asked God to forgive what was past. He confessed belief and that God forgave Him. We thanked God for a new start and prayed for freedom from every stronghold that bound him.” God intervened as we prayed.

As he looked up he said, “Wow, thank you. I feel so much lighter. I just needed to hear that.” Vincent is quite a singer. He began singing Amazing Grace and wanted me to join him. The whole room was full of men, doing other things and we were in the corner singing, oblivious to what anyone else thought. It was really a beautiful moment, singing with someone who has just missed worshiping for so long because he felt unworthy. He finally believed that he could sing the words and they were HIS truth.

A few days later, I happened to be at WARM and Vincent came running over to me. He was so excited. “I can’t get over this. I just feel joy like I never have and it doesn’t go away. Could you pray with me about one more thing.” We prayed about one more thing. Then, he wanted to sing again. It was 9:30 and all the other men were quiet and in bed. The lights were dim, so no matter how quiet we sang, everybody was going to hear.  I couldn’t say no. So we praised God sort of quietly by the door while everybody lay still, almost asleep and just celebrated how amazing it was to know Jesus. It was the first and probably only night that everybody got sung to sleep, but it was beautiful.

I don’t think there could be any greater reward for a servant of Christ than to celebrate moments like this with a once broken, now shining child of God. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.

Faith Comes From Hearing

romans10-17Two people tonight asked me if I was a Pastor and a couple of others told me they liked my preaching! The best of all was when a worker at Project WARM told me that the men respected me and really liked it when I came and gave a devotional. I’m still smiling! I told him that I had never talked about God or did a lesson out of the Bible until about a year ago! He was shocked!


I told them that I was not a preacher and didn’t know how to preach! One guy said “You preached it tonight!” I had to laugh! I read and discussed Matthew 25:31-46. It best tells why I spend time there if for no other reason just to be positive and welcoming. Treat every person as though they were Jesus standing in front of you! Feed them, clothe them, take them in, visit them in prison!

The Bible spells it out simply in those verses! I have to keep it simple for myself!

I try to choose something that applies to my personal life and also lets these men know that I am there because I would not want to be anywhere else. I realized tonight that 30 or more homeless men here in South Bend know me by my first name. . When I leave they thank me and bless me and know my name! (Without seeing my name tag!)

Tonight before I prayed the last time, I asked the men to please keep me and my healing foot in their prayers. I need their prayers just as much as they need mine, that’s a good relationship between friends and many have become friends now. There were questions and concerns about my health! Homeless men concerned and praying for me….God is Amazing in the way He works!

How many of you can say that you know the names of at least 10 homeless people in your home town? How many know you by your name? By sight?

I used to go to a nearby bar and meet friends several evenings a week….like the show Cheers! Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name!

Now I go to Project WARM where everybody knows my name and I come away feeling on top of the world and blessed beyond words!

Alcohol cannot do that, drugs cannot do that, but giving time and sharing God’s love can do that!

Once again, I just had to share my experience! I got there at 7:45pm and was pulling into my drive at exactly 8:57! So much happens within that short time frame that it doesn’t seem possible! The men come in at 8pm, eat about 8:10 and around 8:40 we have a devotional, tonight a man played a guitar and sang “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. After that, I read, discussed and played the song “What If God Was One Of Us” from my cell phone while the guys read the words I printed out for them. We prayed, I came home and they keep warm and will rest out of the elements.

So thankful for this opportunity every time!

Thankful – 1/2 Way Through!

thankful-1-thessalonians-5-18This is a copy of the letter that went to the churches who have sponsored cots at Project WARM. We thought since we are 1/2 through the season our FaceBook friends might like to read this as well:

We are now officially 1/2 way through the Weather Amnesty season! The first half of the year has been remarkably busy, a learning experience for many of us, an impactful experience for the guests and we continue to be excited for the next two months. As I look back to the beginning of this season to today a few things stick out to me:

1. The pace of volunteer activity could not have been imagined. While I was concerned about how we would feed up to 30 guys a night, and how our volunteers would react, we have filled EVERY night with wonderful food for the guests. The volunteers are so excited about this that the entire month of February is also reserved by volunteers! As I write this the next food reservation available is 3/5 and there are only 14 days left for food volunteers. This is incredible!

2. The Bible study that is held on Thursday mornings has been incredible. We are slowly walking through the Gospel of John and we continue have super participation. This last week we had 12 guys attend and many participate. There are guests who know the Bible solidly and some who have never read it. The Word is jumping out on Thursday mornings to the guys in fresh new ways.

3. One of my favorite moments of the year occurred just a week ago. We had a volunteer that gave a short devotional about how iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27) and walked through a quick explanation of what that meant for him. He sat down and then for the next 15 minutes the guests asked for specific Bible verses to be read to the entire room. It was unprompted, raw and incredible. When all of the readings were done a guest tugged on the shoulder of another volunteer and was moved that all of those verses were positive and motivational. This guest had never read the Bible and was surprised to hear what great messages it had, and that many of the other guests knew the scripture. HE wanted to know the scripture and read it as well. The volunteer pointed him to a Bible and he was excited to dig in.

While there may be challenges every now and again we are continually open to God’s instruction, incredibly and humbly thankful for the financial support, and completely taken by the overwhelming support of the volunteers.

Thank you for your ongoing support to this important ministry.

Stepping Out In Faith – A Guests Testimony

images (17)Great things continue to happen at  Project WARM when volunteers step out in faith for God. This is a testimony from a volunteer from last week. A very powerful message for the guests:

“Tonight at Project WARM was the most meaningful night of volunteering for me to date. I made special cards with the words to Amazing Grace on the inside with a handwritten message simply saying “Praying for you” on the inside.

The card and song was part of my message from Ephesians 2:1-9, message being that God’s amazing grace is what saves us and not the great works we do, or who we are in the world. None of that matters! God loves us unconditionally and I am so thankful for that!

After I prayed, talked about God’s love for us all, no matter where we are in our lives or the mistakes we make that God will always love us! I thanked them for listening and they thanked me for coming and then Jon Stevens asked me to tell them my story.

Really, my whole story? I did. I told about the first time I used cocaine and the hold it got on me at age 25 and that I was addicted for 14 years to meth and cocaine. Ashamed and not wanting my family to know anything about it, I never went to rehab to quit. I reached out to God and prayed hard letting Him know that I did not want to die like this!

A guest interrupted me at that point and said….”That was your rehab!” God was my rehab! I agreed with him!

I have not used since that day, have never looked back and have never had the urge to use drugs again.

God grabbed my hand and answered my prayer for life.

I thank Him every day for letting me live and I know that I am alive to tell my story to everyone that needs to hear it. To hear that there is life after addiction and that God loved me at my best and loved me the same at my worst, I just had to call upon Him!

When I was finished, I let them know that I come there to give them hope, I care about each of them and that I pray for their safety, health and a better life every day. If I didn’t have a family that supplied my place to live, I would have been on the streets just like them.

The man that interrupted my story apologized before I left for butting in! I let him know that he was right, God is way better than other rehab options! He wanted to give me a hug! He was high, his eyes were red, but he related to my story and knows there is hope!
He thanked me for being there, many or them thanked me for being there!

I’ve never left Project WARM with a round of applause along with handshakes and lots of hugs like tonight! I have connected with many more men on a whole new level now thanks to Jon asking for me to tell my story! He said that he wanted these guys to know why I am really there, not just a woman from a church with a bible reading lesson. Of course, I am a woman, from Clay Church with a very important message about God’s love! Thank you Jon! It was simply amazing tonight!”

Praying and Giving a Message – Part 2

imagesWe have had some great feedback over the last two months about the messages and prayer at Project WARM.   The guests have responded in some great ways after hearing the messages and we all want to make them as impactful as possible.   Here are some helpful suggestions when preparing and giving the prayer and messages while you are volunteering at Project WARM.  Keep in mind that the goal of the message time is for the guests to hear the living Word – John 6:63 states “ …The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life”.

  • Keep your messages short and Biblically relevant.  A message that is 3-5 minutes is more than enough to read a few verses and explain how that might be relevant to you.  Keep in mind that we aren’t trying to create a sermon here – just a time that the Bible is read and commented on how it is relevant to ALL of our lives.  Let the Word speak for itself – don’t over explain the message if there is no explanation needed.  If you would like to add an explanation describe how those verses relate to YOUR life is the best approach.  Try not to create an “us and them” message.
  • Keep the tone of the message relavant to “everyone”.  Romans 3:32 states “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  In giving a message or a verse to a guest remember that ALL of us fall short of the glory of God and that we all have sinned.  We are no better than the guests – pick a message that is comfortable to give not only to the guests but also your neighbors.  Don’t pick a message that is controversial or overly heavy handed to the guests situation.  When preparing a verse don’t think of one guests situation – think of everyone there.
  • Think love, not fear -Most of the guests know Christ.  1John 4:18 says ” There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”.    Messages should be focused on love and not condemnation or what someone may lack.  Messages that continually focus on the the guests being lost can create a more negative environment that doesn’t encourage hope.

Through the reading of the Word God is at work.

Are We Just Enabling Bad Behavior?

images (15)One of the most frequent questions we receive is “Project WARM sounds great and all, but are you just enabling these men to drink every night and then come in to a safe place but never really helping them?”  Great question!

To be honest we have wrestled mightily with this question in the past.  It would be easy to keep Project WARM as a safe ministry that has a goal of keeping men in a warm environment so they do not freeze to death during the cold winters of South Bend.  We firmly believe that God does not want men to die on the streets.  If we just left it at this we would still be wrestling with the question about enabling behavior that God doesn’t agree with. (Eph. 5:18, Gal 5:21, Prov 20:1, 1Peter 5:8, and on and on).

What we have done at Project WARM is redefine the enablement.  By allowing up to 30 men to come in we are enabling the volunteers to share the love of Christ with them.  We are enabling the opportunity for Matthew 28:19 (Go and make disciples of all nations) to happen at a specific location every night. We are enabling God to show up and touch the lives of the guests.  We are enabling Christian volunteers to step way out of their comfort zone and take some risks for God.  With that enablement and those risks we have seen some really amazing things happen.

 

So are we enabling – Praise God YES! 

 

Romans 10:14-15

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”