Roger came to The Gathering from the men’s Hope House. Struggling with homelessness, unemployment and a difficult past, Roger found acceptance and self-worth at The Gathering: “I was surprised that someone actually talked to me when I came in the door. Then, they played some songs that I knew and asked me to stay for the Bible study where the Pastor asked my opinion! No one had ever asked what I thought.” Like a dozen other homeless men, Roger also is finding purpose and stability in his life as an integral part of The Gathering’s leadership team. Roger has led our Radical Hospitality team because he knows the life-changing impact of welcoming even the most broken people with a warm smile, a handshake, and mutual dignity. Roger’s most recent life-changing investment in the people of downtown Middletown involved coordinating The Gathering’s SHALOM in-residence hosting of 16 Middletown homeless men, women, and children.
For over a year Mike had been part of The Gathering. Mike was homeless before coming to The Gathering. Two months later, he was baptized and became a member. As a result of joining The Band of Brothers men’s group and engaging in weekly Bible study and worship, Mike’s life changed dramatically. Mike’s family’s life changed, too. A year after becoming a part of The Gathering, Mike reconciled with his wife, Elizabeth. Mike and his friend, Alan, went to New York to pick up Elizabeth and their four children and bring them back to Middletown to be together as a family. Since then, Mike and Elizabeth have been participating in the Celebrate Recovery ministry. They have started marital counseling together and their children are attending the local Middletown elementary school.
Over one week in February, The Gathering welcomed 17 homeless men, women, and children to our church home through Middletown's Shalom ministry. Shalom, in partnership with local churches, offers temporary housing, food, and friendship to local residents. This year, several past Shalom participants came back to serve in the ministry that had helped them. One man said, "I had been living under a bridge for two years. One day, I gave up. Got on my knees and asked God to change my life. I had two dollars in my pocket. I thought, 'I can either go buy a quart of beer or I can get a bus ticket and go to Shalom.' I decided to buy the ticket. Shalom helped me get back on my feet and now I want to help others do the same." Thank you for providing the resources that help us offer this essential ministry at The Gathering.