In 2012, a group of Christians set out to make sure nobody froze to death in Wilson County. God blessed that effort. Since then, over 40 churches from 16 traditions have contributed to a ministry that has provided over 10,000 beds and 20,000 meals to hundreds of neighbors. Along the way, God broke down walls and built surprising friendships.
God keeps expanding our vision!From sheltering unhoused neighbors in the winter to making efforts to end homelessness year-round. We are working with guests and community leaders to confront the issues that cause homelessness. In 2018, we developed a strategic plan that included a goal to acquire a facility to serve as office & ministry space.
And then… 2020! The year started with churches hosting overnight guests through the winter. We provided 2,085 beds, along with 5,100 meals, clothes, toiletries, and lots of friendship, encouragement and prayer. Best of all, we helped 20 guests move into stable housing as we worked toward our dream of ending homelessness in Wilson County.
Then a tornado hit on March 3, throwing Compassionate Hands into storm relief. It stretched our team to add a second ministry focus overnight. We learned that God’s preferred future was for us to serve new neighbors in new ways. That was good preparation for what came next…
COVID created more damage than the tornado. People got sick, lost income, and lived in fear. We got so many calls for help! Our ministry had never paid for rent or hotels, but the needs were valid, and we had money in savings. We discerned that God was expanding our vision again, so we decided to help neighbors through this crisis too. Where God guides, God provides… we qualified for CARES Act reimbursements for those costs!
As we looked toward winter shelters, God stretched us again...The shelter plan that worked for seven winters was not adequate for a pandemic. A team studied CDC guidelines for limiting the spread of germs in shelters and recommended two large sites that could be sanitized daily, with additional staff to implement new procedures.
By July, a plan was in motion... Compassionate Hands hired Allen Tack as Director of Ministry Services. The Glade Church offered a wonderful facility to house women. We searched for a site to shelter 40 men and came up empty - no churches, no government buildings, no suitable rentals.
Days before we planned to sign a lease, 214 North College Street hit the market. It was large enough to shelter the men, and it could be ready by December 1. We purchased it on November 2 and opened a month later!
The Compassionate Hands Center for Hope and Renewal will serve as the men’s shelter through winter 2020-21 and a multi-purpose ministry center for years to come. We are grateful for God’s blessing and guidance, as well as for the support and prayers of generous individuals, churches, and businesses who made this dream a reality.
hands & feet to neighbors in need.
and befriend neighbors in need.