A Life Transformed (an email from Jake, September 2012)
I'm writing to thank Main Street Ministries Houston for all their assistance, which has
helped to promote the total transformation of my life. When I first came to Main Street,
I was struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine and dealing with many problems.
Immediately after my release from Harris County's Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF),
I'd stayed at George Steed's half-way house, New Life Resort. George made an impression
on me because we had similar histories, yet his life had been totally transformed, and he
was facilitating profound changes in the lives of others. I wanted to be like George, and
I knew that God was not a respecter of persons - George became my role model.
I started attending His Father's Heart Ministries each week, where I got to know Bill
White and the other ministry staff. I was impressed by the group's honest love for others
and their seeking after God, and this inspired me to do the same. Through HFHM, I met Joey
Gentempo and began attending his church - this has become the spiritual foundation upon
which God continues to build my new life.
The folks at Main Street Ministries also ministered to me materially. Finding employment
is crucial for recovering addicts, and thanks to Dick Pearsall I got a job at Houston Service
Industries, where I've been employed for the last 4 years. Main Street Ministries also helped
with an automotive repair, and recently they paid my fee to obtain a Transportation Worker
Identification Card (TWIC). With this, I hope to return to work as a petrochemical operator,
a career I'd enjoyed for 16 years. Perhaps most importantly, MSMH connected me with a
pro bono family attorney, who helped me restore my visitation rights with my two children.
Two years ago, I was only allowed one 4-hr. monitored visitation per month, and the kids' grandfather
(who has custody) was trying to terminate all my parental rights. But now, my kids (currently 12
and 16) spend every other week-end with me. I also have a good relationship with their grandfather,
and we are able to work together for the best interests of the children. I know God has been
instrumental in rebuilding these relationships, but I also know the free legal assistance I
received through MSMH's contact played a huge part in restoring my family to me.
All this support has taken me from being a jobless, homeless person struggling with sobriety
to becoming a God-fearing man committed to serving the Lord and others. Now I have 3 years
sobriety and 4 years of continual employment. I am married to a wonderful woman, I have completed
a 520-hr. course in drug counseling, and I have started working as a counseling intern (even working
for George Steed)! I will soon have my B.S. in Psychology (with a 3.96 GPA), and I'm hoping to
return to the petrochemical industry in order to triple my income and aggressively tackle my debt.
I regularly work with addicts and alcoholics, passing along the encouragement I've received and
pointing them toward the Lord, and I share my own testimony at every opportunity. Thanks to you
A Life in the Light... again! (as told by Tommy Thompson, from July 2012)
Scroll down (to November 2010) to watch a video of Robert Nichol giving his testimony
at FPC almost two years ago… when he came to us, he talked about being lost and living
in darkness... having experienced a rough early life, and then a rough life as an adult.
But he found Christ and - shortly after that video was made - he was hired by a
businessman at FPC. He did very well for several months; then in early 2011 he
simply vanished - we prayed he hadn't fallen back into the pit, or worse, somehow
lost his life.
Over a year went by. Then one day in May 2012 he walked back into Main Street -
we were thrilled! Of course we wanted to know what had happened… Robert explained
his ex-wife had found out he and their daughter were communicating via Facebook, and
she was livid. To end the connection, she told Robert their daughter had been killed
in an accident. Of course, he was devastated - and he lived with her lie for a whole
year. But in January 2012 he found out the truth: his daughter was still very much alive!
So he traveled to Michigan to visit her. Over the next several months, he realized he
would have to do a lot more work on himself before that relationship could truly be
resurrected. He felt led to come back to Houston, to surround himself with people whom
he could trust, to work on his spiritual life as well as the practicalities of a job
and a place to live. We immediately got him into Class #23 at WorkFaith Connection,
and he graduated on June 15. By the 19th he'd landed a job, which was scheduled to
start on the 20th.
But there was a catch… we had set up his housing at The Center Inc., just down Main
Street in midtown, but the job was located out Washington and started at 4 a.m. (when
METRO buses are not running). Robert refused to be deterred. He devised a plan to
take the last bus of the night, camp out at a nearby Denny's with a book, then walk
into work at 4. Shepherd's Center paid his rent for the first 3 weeks and last Friday
(July 13) he moved into housing closer to his job. He's paying his own rent, has bought
a bicycle to get to work, and is getting more sleep!
With his days and nights still a bit upside down, and living much further away, Robert
can't make Holy Ground's evening programs; however, as we add to our afternoon meetings,
he hopes to start attending again. In fact, he wants to build up and eventually help
lead a new group! He may go to work in the dark, but his life is in the light - and we
have the privilege of walking with him again!
Pay it Forward! (as told by Trish Long, from December 2011)
As many of you know, WorkFaith Connection's second office has been housed upstairs
at 5100 Travis for the last year, and we have come to know and love their staff members,
which include many precious souls who are working hard to reconstruct their lives and
dig out of past holes… the Shepherd's Center has had the chance to extend help to some
of these folks, as the Lord directs.
One such lady - a single mom with a daughter, both of whom had come through Star of Hope -
had been on Bill White's heart. He unexpectedly approached her to let her know that the
Shepherd's Center wanted to cover her electric bills for the month of November and December.
She had been saving a $25 gift card from another church (where she volunteers) as part of
her budget for her daughter's Christmas gifts, but because of having her electricity bills
covered - which freed up more funds for Christmas - she began to ponder how she should
utilize the gift card. She discussed it with her daughter, who herself had won a $5 gift
card at McDonald's that she was planning to add to her mom's and spend on herself for
Christmas. The two decided that instead, both gift cards should be "paid forward" and
they began to pray about who should ultimately receive them.
One girl going through the WorkFaith class in December especially struck a chord - she was
currently living at Star of Hope, had kids, and was without friends or family to help her
with gift purchases. The WorkFaith staffer and her daughter felt this girl should be the
recipient of their $30 in gift cards. At the same time, WorkFaith Connection was holding
a drawing for members of the class. Classmates who had finished certain tasks were automatically
entered in the drawing - for another $25 gift card - and the WorkFaith staffer's daughter had
prayed that God would allow this girl to also win the drawing, adding to the money she would
have for buying gifts. However, upon receiving the $30 in cards from the WF staffer and her
daughter (along with a precious note of encouragement), the student decided that if she won
the drawing as well, she would pass along that award to another student in the
class (also at Star of Hope) who was without friends, family, or funds. When God allowed her
to win the drawing, she promptly shared the plan with her benefactors, and all rejoiced.
God's spirit of giving had been loosed: each recipient had resolved to "pay it forward" and
bless someone else… Hallelujah!
Congratulations! Nichole McGhie has been awarded the Jamaica Foundation
Scholarship for $1,000, to help her pursue her degree in nursing. MSMH wrote a
recommendation letter for Nichole, who serves as a volunteer here during school breaks.
Nicole received her award on May 21, and came by recently to tell us (her picture is
shown to the right).
Another Miracle (as told by Bill Cornelius, new volunteer - from June 2011)
It was my second day of work at Operation ID and as I walked up the ramp to
the building, I thought to myself, "Wow, there are only 50 clients here. It's going to
be easier than Tuesday when we saw over 90 clients!" After Dorothy and I finished with
a client who came with five kids in tow (all needing birth certificates), I was told
that a special blessing was waiting for us in the lobby.
Crystal was a seventeen year old former prostitute who had been referred to us
from Judge Gordon Marcum, an FPC member. Dorothy and I met with her and learned that she
had been in foster care since she was a toddler and had come to Houston a year earlier to
find and care for her real father. She had fallen in with the wrong crowd and resorted to
prostitution to support herself and her partially paralyzed dad. Crystal told us that
Judge Marcum had given her $2 for bus fare and sent her to Main Street Ministries, so we
could help her obtain a Texas ID, the first step in her efforts to leave life on the streets.
She was scared to death, had only $4 to her name, hadn't eaten in two days, had no proof of
who she was, and was begging for help to quickly leave her old life behind. It was
heart-breaking, and it seemed hopeless to her…and to me. However, God fights for the poor,
promising to "lift the needy from the ash heap" (1 Samuel 2:8).
Several of the branches of Main Street Ministries mobilized to help her. Dorothy
and I (Operation ID volunteers) called Judge Marcum (on the bench!), and his clerk faxed us
a court document signed by the Judge to serve as one form of identification. Next I called
Poolville High School in north Texas and coaxed the registrar to fax us Crystal's school records
to serve as a second form of identification. Bill White (with the Shepherd's Center) got involved,
giving Crystal lunch and a few snacks and providing her with $25 of Metro vouchers. He also
called in a Houston Police officer in the Homeless Outreach Unit to vouch for her and then personally
led our merry team to the Vital Records Office to immediately obtain her birth certificate!
A few days later, God would perform another miracle by accelerating the process at the DPS office,
where we obtained Crystal's new Texas ID in less than 20 minutes rather than several hours.
After five hours of labor on one day and an additional few hours the following week,
I am proud to say that Crystal has the identification she needs to quit her life on the street
and find a real job. Only that week I had been studying how members of the early church
performed miracles in the name of Christ to change lives for good. I knew that on this
Thursday, Christ had worked another miracle to bring goodness and grace to Crystal… and to me.
Editor's Note: Crystal has been encouraged to return to Shepherd's Center for
future assistance and a referral to WorkFaith Connection, as well as to Holy Ground's Monday
night meal / small group for women, and the Thursday night meal / fellowship.
Happiest Man in the World (as told by Phil Pierce, Director of Operation ID - from March 2011)
James came to us over two years ago, having been incarcerated many long years and now in a
halfway house. Typical of most people in his situation, he needed a birth certificate and
photo ID. Upon application, we received a "No Record Found" letter along with a Delayed
Birth Certificate packet. Like others we have helped, James was born at home and delivered
by a mid-wife over sixty years ago but his birth was never registered. We rode up many a
box canyon looking for documents that would satisfy Texas Vital Statistics' requirements.
Only two of the three they require could be located.
At last, I wrote to a contact I had made some time ago in the Delayed Birth Records Department
and pleaded for a mercy exception. I promptly received a letter back informing me we could
obtain James' Selective Service Registration (remember draft cards?) and if the data matched,
they would accept it as the third document. I promptly ordered a copy of his card and when
it arrived, I was gratified to see his name, place of birth, and date of birth were all
consistent with the documents we had already sent.
The day soon came when I could hand him his certificate. He looked it over for a good
thirty seconds. Then he took my hand in both of his and said, "Thank you, Mr. Phil -- thank
you! You don't know how much this means to me. You just wouldn't quit, would you? You're
a good man, Mr. Phil. Thank you!" We chatted a few minutes and then he repeated his gratitude.
As he walked out, he looked back over his shoulder and exclaimed, "You made me the happiest
man in the world today!" It is such a joy to serve such as these... the more difficult the
task, the greater the joy.
And, lessons previously learned and reaffirmed: (1) personal relationships count and (2)
never give up!
A Good Man (as told by Phil Pierce, Director of Operation ID - February, 2011)
Charles Henry R., who is a six-feet-two-inch large-boned black man, was born in rural East
Texas in 1938 at home, and delivered by a midwife. He had never seen his birth certificate.
By the age of eleven, he was in Gatesville Prison for minors and spent most of his life in
Texas state jails. Charles changed his life while incarcerated and became a trusty and a
driver for the prison system, both inside and outside the walls. He also completed his GED
before he was released. When he got out, he came to us to help him get his birth certificate.
We applied to all the sources that are able to issue certified copies of Texas birth
certificates: Houston Vital Statistics, the county of his birth, and Texas Vital Statistics
in Austin. It was nowhere available, and that is when we were certain the midwife had never
fulfilled the last of her responsibilities: registering his birth with the county.
All states have a process to create and issue a "Delayed Birth Certificate" but it is never
easy for an older person. Texas requires three documents that contain matching birth facts.
For instance, a marriage license or a divorce decree can be used (but Charles had never
married), early school records (but his parents had entered him in school early by aging
him a year, so the date of birth was incorrect), census records (the only data listed was that
he was born in Texas -- he was in prison at the time of the census), an affidavit from an
older relative (but Charles was the oldest child, and his parents had long since passed
away while he was incarcerated), etc. We finally obtained an affidavit from a younger
relative and submitted it with the other mixed and inconsistent data to Texas Vital Statistics.
The application was rejected.
We next called Texas Vitals and pleaded Charles' case. They suggested other documents he
might use -- none of which could be had for him. We wrote a letter, pleading his case once
more, explaining the discrepancies in dates, and citing his exemplary prison record. Weeks
went by with no word. Charles called regularly to see if we had heard anything -- he was
always disappointed, but handled the news well. We were friends by then -- having worked
on the problem for more than six months. Always polite and well-dressed, Charles now had
a "lady friend" and a low-paying "piddlin' job." He still needed that birth certificate
Then one morning to my great surpirse, his official Texas-certified birth certificate
appeared on my desk, having arrived in the previous day's mail. I could hardly believe it,
even after reading it a couple of times. I called Charles and told him someone in Austin
with some common sense had read his application, approved it, and sent us the certificate!
I am convinced God intervened.
Charles was in our office in minutes. I was on the phone when he arrived, yet he waited
patiently for me to finish the conversation. When I handed him his newly created birth certificate,
he sat looking at it and shaking his head as if to say, "I never thought I'd see this day."
For the first time in over sixty years, he could prove he was a United States citizen, he
could obtain a Texas Driver's License, rent an apartment, and apply for benefits. Charles
rose, and then with tears in his eyes, gave me a big bear hug. "Thank you, thank you, Mr.
Phil" he repeated over and over. There were tears in my eyes as well. Finally, we shook
hands, wishing each other well, and he left smiling all the way out the door.
I can't really put into words what I felt that day... certainly joy and thanks to God come
to mind, but it was even more than that. To succeed in helping someone who believes they
are at a dead end, out of options, and with no hope of moving forward is a very deeply
moving moment. It must be experienced to be understood -- I wish everyone could do
just that -- and in fact, they can if they are willing. There is certainly plenty of opportunity
Is It Mr. Jones... or Mr. Smith? (as told by Phil Pierce, Director of Operation ID, January 2011)
John Jones was born in East Texas, the son of a single mom (there is no father listed
on his birth certificate). At some point in elementary school, his mother introduced him
to his father Mr. Smith, who wanted to share some time with his son. Mr. Smith apparently did
share some quality time with his son, to the extent that the boy told his teachers his name
was now Smith. However, the parents had taken no legal steps to change his name, so the
school continued to educate John Jones.
Nevertheless, in middle school his mother took him to the Post Office and he obtained
a Social Security card in the name of John Smith. Upon graduation from high school (as Jones),
he used his SS card to enlist in the Army as John Smith -- which is the name reflected in
all his military records. When he was discharged, he used his SS card and military records to
obtain a Texas Driver's License and later, a Commercial Driver's License.
John Smith was incarcerated for five years, during which time his CDL expired. By the
time he got out, his license had been expired for more than two years, requiring him
to produce his birth certificate in order to obtain a new Texas ID card. But with a birth
certificate in the name of "Jones" and Social Security / military records as "Smith," the
authorities refused to issue him a new photo ID.
John came to Operation ID for help in getting this major discrepancy remedied. A significant
change in an adult's last name requires a court order. He certainly had sufficient data to
propose that change; however, under Texas law, a name change is prohibited for two years after
release from prison, even if the name change is to the name used in prison!
I e-mailed a contact in State Senator John Whitmire's office regarding this unique
situation. I know that Senator Whitmire is the Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice
Committee and has great interest in effective rehabilitation, as well as a desire to help
those who have served their time. Two days later I received a call from the Dept. of
Public Safety, telling me that they would make an exception in this case and issue an
ID card -- but in the name of Jones, which was his legal name. I pointed out that, among
other issues, no legitimate employer would hire him with an ID in one name and a Social
Security card in another! Still, the representative said she believed that was the best
that DPS could do. So I e-mailed the Senator's office once again, pleading the case and
listing the problems created for John if he had to live in this situation for two years.
Five days later, the same DPS representative called me at home and said she was happy to
report that the case had been re-evaluated, and they had agreed to give John an ID as "Smith."
She had also called John, who was very excited -- and I could hear his elation reflected in
her voice as well. When I checked my voice mail, there was John saying "Thank you, thank you,
thank you... " over and over again.
I am gratified to know that we have elected officials, members of their staff, and
agency personnel who will take the time and make the effort to correct an injustice
for an individual in our state. And I wrote each office to tell them so!
Christmas 2010: Kyle Ewald put together this video of 400 shoe boxes delivered to Holy Ground for
distribution to our clients... Holy Ground volunteers Karen Byrd and Kent & Leslie
George arranged for New Covenant Church of Humble to pack, wrap, and deliver the
boxes during our thanksgiving-tree lighting party on December 2 -- what a blessing!
November 2010: Robert Nichol told his story at FPC just before Thanksgiving...
testifying to the ability of Christ's love to restore hope to a wounded soul -
Payback: A Life Changed (a story from July, 2010 as narrated by Patsy Powell)
In January 1999, a client came to Operation ID for assistance in obtaining his
Texas birth certificate and Texas ID. Operation ID provided him the checks for these
two documents. Unfortunately, the client chose to use the checks inappropriately and
soon tricked a local convenience store into cashing them -- this is a rare occurence,
and subsequently we have improved security to avoid such scams; however, in this case,
the client got away with it. When the bank statement arrived, it was clear the checks
had been misused, and the client's file was noted to reflect that information.
Operation ID's policy, when checks are misused, is that the client is to be
refused service in future, should they return. We will, however, listen to the client's
explanation -- and if there is concensus among those who interview him/her, we may
opt to give them another chance.
Fast-forward eleven years, to February 2010: the same client again came to
Operation ID for assistance, but this time he requested help obtaining his true
birth certificate from South Carolina. Our interviewer wasn't at first aware of the
past issue, but soon discussions were held with the referring agency and the client.
It seems that, after getting out of prison in 1999, the client had fallen in with the
wrong crowd. He was advised by a new "friend" that he should try this scam for some
ready cash. When we asked him why he thought Operation ID should help him again, he
replied that he had been going to church, was being counseled by his pastor, and was
working to turn his life around. He said that he realized what he had done was wrong,
and that the 'advice' he had been given was bad. He now needed a birth certificate
and ID to find employment. We suggested that he might consider repaying the amount
taken, which he said he would do. After some additional questions and admonitions,
we decided to assist him once again, and then told him to go in peace.
Four months went by; then in June 2010, Patsy (one of our volunteers) received
a note from Security, telling her someone was asking for her at the front desk. It
was the client returning to tell her he had been clean now for 9 months, was still
attending church, and had gotten a job. He had come in to pay retribution for the
original ID and birth certificate checks that he had misused. Needless to say, he
was told that just by coming in, he had repaid more than he had taken. He is sharing
his experience with others by telling them that Operation ID is more than willing to
help, but they need to do the right thing. We told him we were proud of him, and we
loved him... and to come back any time!
It Felt Like Home (a story from June 2010, as narrated by Trish Long)
Some of you may remember a petite lady, Lynn, whom we sent to Lake Charles in
February for her birth certificate. When she got there, Lynn was directed by the
clerk at the Bureau of Vital Statistics to a shelter for women & children which
was very close by – The Potter’s House. Lynn called us a few days later, saying
she had decided to ‘settle down’ there, saying it was ‘very nice’ and just ‘felt
like home’ – and asking us what she should do with the other half of her round-trip
ticket? We told her to cash it in and keep the money (about $30).
This week, another homeless woman in similar circumstances came to us as a candidate
for a round-trip ticket to Lake Charles to retrieve her birth certificate. This
second lady seemed a little too frail to be on her own, and so I felt we should
have someone escort her to the government offices. Bill remembered the shelter
where Lynn was staying, and had me call them to see if they would help. Of course,
while I was on the phone, I inquired about Lynn and was told she “didn’t live there
anymore.” But the receptionist who took the call couldn’t tell me what had happened
Just now, the Director called me back. (Since “escort service” isn’t
something they typically do, it would only be attempted at the Director’s request.)
In the course of that second conversation, I was able to find out about Lynn –
she had stayed with them for about a month when, one day while she was walking down
the street, her aunt “recognized her walk from behind” and approached her! Lynn
found out that her mother was taken to Chicago after Katrina, and was now living there.
She was soon reunited with her mother by phone; meanwhile, the aunt (who had always
wanted to adopt her when she was a girl), is now delighted to have Lynn living
with her in Lake Charles!
And Lynn, who thought her family had abandoned and forgotten her altogether,
has rediscovered both home and family. How sweet is our God?
The Power of a Prayer (a story from Lacy Price, May 2010)
Sometimes Shepherd's Center gets a client who is very deserving of our help, but
presents difficulties. Such was the case with a lady facing eviction who had no lease
document, only a hand-written note from her landlord. Without official documents, we
have a policy of not extending assistance. Still, the volunteer was moved to find
some way to help, and gave the client a bus pass along with a referral letter to
Operation ID (she only had an out-of-state license). The client reported she had
a job interview that afternoon, so before she left, the volunteer prayed with her
for success. Later that day, we got the following email from our volunteer:
"On my way to Shepherd's Center today, I had prayed others would see God through me.
I just received a call from Susan, she had a great interview and got the job! She
thanked me for this morning and said she knew God had put me there for her, as our
conversation gave her more confidence for the interview... wow! She left today with
only a $10 bus pass and a referral to Operation ID -- what a wonderful return on our
Restoration (as narrated by Mary McGuire, March 2010)
The words of our Ash Wednesday anthem spoke of restoration -
but I really didn't have a picture of what that meant until I was
part of restoring a woman to her family.
At Shepherd's Center, we help all types of people. Usually they
are grateful for our listening to their crises, perhaps helping
with money or directing them to other places for assistance.
But sometimes we host "creatures of God" of a slightly different
kind. I spent one morning talking to a homeless man who wanted
a bus ticket back to New Jersey since that was where he originally
"woke up on the wrong planet."
The following Monday, Mandy's friend checked her in to be interviewed.
Mandy had attended His Father's Heart the previous Thursday night with
a friend, where our director Bill White had met her. Bill had
offered to help her if she would come back to Shepherd's Center
the next Monday morning. Thus the Wilde sisters (Marty and Anne)
and I began the process… Mandy told us she wanted a bus ticket
to San Antonio, where she "would feel safe." We recorded her first
name and her mother's full name; she also told us she came from Breaux
Bridge, LA. I slipped away from the team to look up this information
on the internet in hopes of finding her mother, not realizing
how many Smiths live in south Louisiana. I talked to one lady
with the right name in a location matching what we'd been given,
and learned she owned "The Manor" (a wedding facility) - wrong
person, but she loved to help people. After hearing Mandy's story,
this Ms. Smith also got on her computer. Then she volunteered that
her brother (a state trooper), often took information on missing
persons, so she gave me the phone numbers for the local sheriff's
and parish's (county's) offices. I called these numbers, leaving
Mandy's description with each, hoping someone had filed a missing
person's report on her.
That afternoon, Mandy's mother called the Shepherd's Center after
being contacted by the sheriff's department! She confirmed Mandy
was a paranoid schizophrenic who needed to stay on medication. Four
and a half years ago, Mandy had walked away from her housing in Baton
Rouge and traveled to New Orleans. Then Katrina hit; the family had
reported her missing. Over the next four years, they'd received only
one postcard - without any information to help them locate their daughter. I told
Mandy's mother I would attend His Father's Heart to see if Mandy would
come back. She didn't come that Thursday night, but the next Monday
morning her friend brought her to the center again. After 40 minutes of
talking with her in the parking lot, she finally trusted me enough to
come inside, where she spoke to her mother by phone. Mandy promised
to come back the next day, and her mother made plans to drive into
Houston to meet her. I also came back, to meet Mrs. Smith and support
Mandy was so excited that she wouldn't come into the building, but
waited in the parking lot with our director and her friend. After
checking on her mom's arrival, I learned that the family was already
in Houston and close to the church. As I walked out of the building,
a car drove into the lot - I wish I'd had a camera. Mandy stood tense,
watching with her arms crossed as the car pull up. Then a woman got out
of the car and walked toward her; they stared at each other for a moment
and then Mrs. Smith opened her arms. Mandy folded into her mother's arms,
the first time I had seen her allow herself to be touched without fighting
back. Almost five years of separation melted in an instant…
Restoration: I have a picture of it now.
Just one of our clients... (a narrative from Bill White, January, 2010)
Victor works for an outlying school district (as an assistant manager of a school
cafeteria) in their food-services department. His wife has also worked as a food
server in the past, although she has been out of work for the last 3 months
because she has end-stage renal failure and is now a candidate for a kidney
transplant. She will not be approved for a transplant, however, unless she can
complete necessary dental work (she must have all her infected teeth pulled, so
as not to jeopardize her chances of success with a transplant). She is trying to
work part-time, even though she is ailing. These employees are hourly, and so
are not paid when the schools are closed (such as over holiday breaks). The
couple's electricity has been cut off, but since the wife was on dialysis, the
neighbors had allowed them to run an extension chord into their apartment to operate
her medical equipment. The landlord had sent them an eviction notice - they need
to pay $1,500 in back rent to stay in their apartment. Both their cars have
already been sold, and they have even hocked the wife's wedding band. They have
no credit card bills, but without the wife's income, they continue to slide deeper
and deeper into debt.
The Shepherd's Center interviewers were deeply moved by this couple's situation.
First we contacted Adult Protective Services, which provides emergency funds
intervention to keep people like Victor and his wife from becoming homeless; APS
confirmed they will send out an agent tomorrow to interview our clients and assess
their needs. We also called Sheltering Arms, to get them set up with free care-givers
as well as ongoing case management. Next, Shepherd's Center provided an immediate
pledge to Reliant Energy, who agreed to restore electricity to their home within
the next 24 to 48 hours. Last, one of the Shepherd's Center volunteer interviewers
contacted her own dentist, who offered to do the teeth extractions for free.
At the end of our time with them, Victor also told us their son has signed up to
serve in Afghanistan, in order to help the family. He is leaving his used vehicle
with them as well, so that they will have a car again. We prayed with them, and
asked God to continue guiding them… when they left, they were so grateful, and felt
they could at last see some "light at the end of their tunnel." And we continue
to pray for this couple.
God Reminded Me... (A narrative as told by Trish Long, from December, 2009)
The morning air was nippy as volunteers hurried into the building to hear an
early-morning presentation by a local U.S. Veterans social worker. As they settled
in over their steaming cups of coffee, the small audience was quickly impressed by
the woman's vibrant passion for her work. After she finished explaining the various
programs available to help transition veterans off the streets and into safer environments,
she asked if she could share a bit of her own story. Intrigued, the group eagerly
invited her testimony.
Her sparkling eyes became somber then, as she relayed how for many years she had
lived as a drug addict on the streets of Houston. She had been robbed and, needing
to replace her identification, had come to Operation ID. The process required her
to obtain a new birth certificate; upon its arrival, she was gripped by seeing her
real name in print for the first time in many years. She read her date of birth,
her mother's name, her home town... and was suddenly flooded by memories. Now her
black eyes brimmed with tears… in the days that followed, God gradually drew her
back to who she was - and who God was! Step by step, He pulled her off the streets,
got her clean, and got her life turned around… indeed, her own purpose in coming
that day had been to express her deep gratitude to God and her appreciation for
the work done through the center. While the volunteers brushed away their own tears,
she assured them that as routine and mundane as the process might seem, God had
used the brief efforts of a few in the most profound way… A simple birth certificate
was the tool He had chosen to resurrect her life!