The following article is an account of the beginning of the United Pentecostal Church’s homeless ministry in Johnson Park. Since writing the article there has been a slight delay. The Sunday soup kitchen has been postponed temporarily while the church makes sure that it’s kitchen facilities are approved by the County.
Linda and I went to the 10 a.m. service at the United Pentecostal Church October 30. It was the first weekend that they were beginning their ministry for the homeless.
We arrived at the church just before 10 and as soon as we got out of our car we were greeted warmly by Pastor John Peterson. When we entered the church building, a kind lady greeted us and asked if we would like a bowl of warm oatmeal.
I hadn’t eaten that morning so I gladly said yes. In addition to oatmeal there was also hot coffee and donuts. I sat with a man named Tony who lives in the woods. Jeanne had picked him up in the morning to bring him over for a meal and the church service.
There may be as many as 100 people who live in the woods around Burney and Johnson Park. There are also a number of “couch surfers” who have no permanent residence but stay with various people in town on a rotating basis.
Providing a food before and after service is the first step for a homeless ministry that the church under the leadership of Pastor John Peterson would like to do.
The church would also like to get a washer and drier so that people who live in the woods or are otherwise homeless will have a place to wash their clothes. They also have the plumbing in place for a shower, but it needs a shower head, faucets, and shower enclosure put in place to be functional. As soon as that is done, they will also be able to provide a place to shower.
Before he came to Burney, Pastor Peterson pastored a church in New Mexico that ministered to the needs of the homeless and also helped people to get on their feet and recover from addiction.
In his sermon, Pastor Peterson quoted Luke 9:58
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Jesus and his disciples were often homeless during their ministry. Jesus cared for the poor and humble and so should we.
It was a wonderful spirit-filled service. It began with a period of prayer that the Holy Spirit could bless the service. Then Pastor Peterson’s wife played piano, sang and led the congregation in worship. Next Reverend Peterson preached about repentance, baptism by water and the Holy Spirit, and being born again. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that being born again is only a beginning of a new life. Born again believers should strive for holiness.
“Life is a battle for holiness.” said the pastor.
The service ended with more prayer.
After service there was fellowship and food. Everyone was welcome and the food was delicious. Cornbread, chicken soup, another tomato and pasta soup, and a delicious peach cobbler made by Jodi. The chicken soup was donated by Anna’s Country Kitchen.
Jeanne has taken a lead in helping to organize the ministry for the homeless. Anyone wishing to help please call her at 945-2344. Food and clothing donations are welcome as well as help finishing the shower and getting a washer and a drier.