On Tuesday night Meredith, Ed and I volunteered to help count the number of homeless people in the city of Fort Collins. This is called a Point In Time count and required the volunteers to spread out across the city at specified times to locate and interview the homeless.
Meredith, Ed and I were assigned to interview as many homeless people as we could at a shelter in Fort Collins. When we arrived at the shelter there was a long line of homeless people waiting outside to see if there would be room for them to spend the night inside. The sun had gone down for the night so it was dark and the air was cold. I immediately started walking down the line of homeless people to see if anyone would be willing to participate in the interview. As I approached the individuals standing in line I had a brief glimpse of what it is like to stand outside in the cold, dark night hoping for a warm bed in a warm building. I also had a brief opportunity to look closely into the eyes of the individuals. What I saw was not pleasant. No one greeted me with a smile or a welcome or so glad you are here. Instead I saw weariness, fatigue, fear, emptiness and worry. Every person standing in that line had a look of hopelessness.
My first interview led me to a very young man who said he was 20 years old. It is heart breaking to look into the eyes of a handsome young man and see nothing but hopelessness, weariness and fear. He was with his older brother and they were waiting in line to see if they would be able to get into the shelter for the night. He was a shy young man and it was clear that this young man was a bit apprehensive about answering my questions. He looked to his brother for direction and his brother nodded his head that it was o.k. I proceeded with the interview and what I learned was that this young man and his brother had been homeless for about 9 months. They were looking for work but had not yet found any. Neither brother had completed high school and the highest grade one brother had completed was 9th grade. They had no health insurance and no money. No money, no health insurance, no education, no job, no car and no place to live and yet the brothers had something very precious...they had each other. It was clear that these two young brothers have not had an easy time of life and yet here they were sticking together during hard times and watching out for one another.
My second interview was even more heartbreaking and eye opening than the first. It was a single mother with three children. The children appeared to be about 6, 8 and 10 years old, two boys and a girl. I wish that you could have been with me at this interview to meet this mother. It was about 7:30 pm and she had no idea where she and her three children would be sleeping that night; and yet she was so patient with her children and was willing to take the time to answer my interview questions. She had so many other pressing issues to deal with that night and yet she was willing to give her time to me, a stranger. During the interview I learned that she was a single parent and was working at a full time job for $10.00 an hour. I asked her where she and her children would sleep if they couldn't get into the shelter and she said they would sleep in their car. A single parent of three children, a full-time job that paid $10.00 an hour and no place to live. Honestly, I don't know how she had the patience to deal with her active children or how she had the patience to answer my questions about her homelessness. I wondered where her strength came from to go to work after spending the night in a car with three children. I wondered how it was possible to get three kids ready for school after sleeping in a car. What would they eat for breakfast? Where would they use the bathroom, brush their teeth and wash their face? Would they go to school and work in the same clothes they slept in? How did this mother find the strength to do this day after day and night after night? How do three young children thrive without a home and without a warm bed of their own to sleep in at night? This mother had so much determination and was trying so hard but she was bone tired weary.
These are the faces of the young people and families that we want to help here at Soaring Wings Ministries. I share these stories with you so that you will know that the need to help the homeless here in Fort Collins, Colorado is great and that the people are real. They are tired, weary, hopeless and they are running on empty. Our motto for Soaring Wings Ministries is "Hope In Action". We want to give hope to the two young brothers standing in line and we want to ease the weariness of the single, working mother with three children. We want to give the three young children a warm bed to sleep in every night and we want to see them heading off to school after having a warm breakfast. We want to look into all their faces and see smiles of hope and joy instead of fear and hopelessness. We want to love them like Jesus loves them and share the love of Jesus with them on a daily basis in a real and tangible way. With God's help and blessing Soaring Wings Ministries will be able to offer families like we met a place to live until they can soar on their own. We are pressing forward and look forward with joyful anticipation to the day when the property at 499 Trinity Lane will offer "Hope In Action" to needy families and young adults.
Written by: Anita Rennells
It has been exactly one year ago this month that Soaring Wings Ministries purchased the property at 499 Trinity Lane in Wellington, Colorado. I can't help but think back on this time last year. I was so homesick, I felt like I was living on the moon and yet we moved forward in our efforts to make 499 Trinity Lane a home, not only for ourselves, but also the future home for homeless young adults and families. As I reflect back on this past year I am so grateful for God's guidance, blessing and patience. There were times that I wanted to pack everything up and head back east but I am so glad that I didn't listen to my feelings and instead listened to God and turned to Him for strength. Instead of feeling like I am living on the moon I am beginning to appreciate the vast, open, raw beauty of the area we live in. I am beginning to understand the cycles of the season better and learning the ways of the west a little bit more. We have met wonderful people and some of them have invested their time, effort and money into a fledgling property at 499 Trinity Lane. As one friend said to us "I sense God working out at 499 Trinity Lane and I believe God has some exciting things planned for Soaring Wings Ministries and I want to be involved from the very beginning!". All we can say to this is "Amen!".
Rather than continue on with a written blog I thought that I would share some "BEFORE" and "AFTER" pictures of Soaring Wings Ministries at 499 Trinity Lane in Wellington, Colorado. I hope you enjoy the pictures. I hope they will give you a sense of the hard work that we have put into this property and I also hope that our sense of excitement, joy and gratitude will be evident. All that we have been able to accomplish is all because of God. Without Him guiding, strengthening and blessing us Soaring Wings Ministries would have withered but instead Soaring Wing Ministries is SOARING!!!! Come out and visit us anytime and see what God has done. We hope to see many of our friends, family and supporters here at 499 in Trinity Lane in 2015 and we also look forward to 2015 with a new sense of boldness, excitement, joy and gratitude!!!!
Well it is that time of year again....January. All the brightly colored lights of Christmas are gone along with all the festivities, shopping and special food that is made only once a year. All the Christmas music is gone, candy canes gone, Peanut Blossom Cookies are gone, presents are gone and Christmas movies are gone. We are left with January. We are left with our regular day to day routines and unless you live in the warmer regions of the United States we are left with cold weather, snow, sleet, wind and the desire to just hunker down until spring. It sounds so bleak and dismal to think about Christmas being over and January setting in.
During Christmas we celebrated the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We celebrated His coming to earth as an infant to save us from our sins. We celebrated His holiness and His humanity all in one. We celebrated the hope that He gives us for this life and the next. We celebrated the gift of God in the person of Jesus.
This celebration of Jesus' birth does not end with Christmas, in fact, I think Christmas is the beginning of the celebration. What we celebrate at Christmas, does not end on December 25th. Sure we take down on Christmas trees, we go back to eating more sensibly and we go back to our everyday routines, but who Jesus is and what He did by coming to earth to die for our sins does not end, in fact, Christmas is just the beginning. It is the beginning because we can have a personal relationship with the Son of God because of Jesus. With this personal relationship comes joy, peace, hope, eternal life and a desire to live a life that will honor Him and give Glory to Him as the Son of God.
As I sit here writing this early in the morning, I see the sun rising up over the hills in the east and the sky is filled with the Glory of who God is. His majesty, power, beauty, creativity and His delight in the beautiful is displayed in these glorious sunrises. Our lives should reflect who God is and what He has done for us by sending His sons Jesus to us. Everyday our lives should bring Glory to God. I don't think we are to sit hunkered down waiting for spring and to bemoan the fact that we can't hear anymore Christmas music, or eat more cookies, or enjoy brightly colored lights. Instead we are to glorify God with our daily lives by loving Him, worshipping Him and offering our lives as living sacrifices. Everything that we do should bring Glory to God. It is a challenge to live a life pleasing to God. It is not easy in this world to make God the center of our worship. The world keeps tugging at us and telling us to worship the earthly things of this world instead. It tells us to use our time and money for ourselves instead of for others and it tells us that we are to seek the approval of men rather than God, but the Bible tells us differently. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transferred by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will". Romans 12: 1-2.
So how do we worship God? How to we give glory to God for who He is, for sending His son Jesus, for creating beautiful sunrises? We worship God with our lives by offering our bodies as living scarifies. Not an easy thing to do, but it is the only way to keep Christmas going. We don't keep Christmas alive by keeping our Christmas trees up all year long or eating Christmas cookies everyday. We keep Christmas alive by sharing Jesus with others, by feeding the hungry, by helping those in need, by spending time praying to God, by spending time reading our Bibles, by taking a walk and praising God for all the beauty that He has created, by loving others, by putting others ahead of ourselves and by being joyful and hopeful.
Christmas is the beginning so now that Christmas is over take joy in the fact that Jesus lives and offer your lives to Him. As you go about your daily lives may you find joy and peace and may you also give Glory to our Lord and Savior in all that you do.
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries