On Tuesday, November 5 in Seabrook Hall from 6 to 8 pm, Serving & Outreach is holding its second Equipping Series event in the “Understanding Our … Neighbors” series.
This time we discuss what it means to understand not only the point of view and daily life of homeless people, but also how best to relate to them that is beneficial for everyone involved as well as honoring to God.
One of the ways that you can help serve the homeless which will be highlighted by our “Understanding Our Homeless Neighbors” discussion on Nov 5 is by helping give out food with Team Laeth, a ministry begun by Christ Church staff member Sharon Mullins and her husband David in memory of their son Laeth who was suddenly killed in August of 2012.
David and Sharon were recently able to share about this ministry, and their story is such an inspiring example of what can happen when we respond in faith to the needs in our world:
1) How did it come about that you and Sharon decided to start a ministry in Laeth’s memory? And why did you decide to start a ministry for feeding homeless people in Memphis? Had either of you had much experience?
David: We had a small life insurance policy on Laeth and we decided to spend $5,000 of it to serve meals to homeless folks for a year in memory of Laeth. I thought it would help us get through a very difficult time in our lives. Laeth and I had served together with his youth group from Highpoint Church after he returned from the Marines. I also feel at some point Laeth may have been in a line like ours. Being injured in the Marines took away Laeth’s only dream in life and I see folks like him in our line frequently. It means a lot to me to serve those people.
We learned to serve from Brenda Williams when she worked in the CUMC kitchen with Sharon. We serve meals with her and her husband Darnell each month at Ronald McDonald House. We used to box up the leftover food at the end and take the meals to parks and places homeless folks gather. We are also very active at Jacob’s Well. We help prepare and serve for the meals before the Saturday evening service and at CPR on Wednesday nights.
2) Did you have any hesitations about starting the ministry? What has been the most difficult challenge and the most significant victory?
Sharon: My biggest challenge has been preparing meals for 80-100 people in our home kitchen. We could not have done this the whole year without the support CUMC has given us. They have allowed us to borrow equipment that has let us create and serve much better hot meals in larger quantities.
My most significant victory is seeing the people we go to serve waiting for us so they can help serve.
My biggest hesitation was being worried about our safety when we started. We started this January 10 of this year and it was getting dark at 5 pm. I was worried about how safe we
would be on the streets of downtown Memphis after dark. We now have a group of the people we serve that stay around until we all leave to make sure we are safe. We take care of them and they take care of us. It’s reciprocation.
David: The most significant victory for me is getting others involved. Many folks have connected with us because we lost a child and they have had the same loss.
It’s not all about serving food with Team Laeth. We also now pass out info from Ruth’s Heart to give people info about shelter, meals and programs available to help our friends on the streets.
3) What encouragement would you give about reaching out to our homeless neighbors?
David: Find people that are already doing it and get involved. There are many other ways to help besides serving meals.
There is nothing like helping others in need and homeless and hungry folks are definitely those in need. Inside we are all the same and getting to know our friends on the streets has taught me that. I tell them everyone has gifts from God and can help us.
We have folks we serve serving us—waiting to unload our cars when we pull up, waiting to help us hand out food, waiting to help pick up trash, waiting to help clean up and load it back up afterwords. It takes many of us to do this and the folks we go to serve love to help us serve. It gives them a sense of dignity and self worth to know we need their help. They feel part of Team Laeth and that helps everyone. We give some people hope and let them know others really care about them and that their lives have value.
David: We would appreciate any type of support whether it be prayers, supplies, preparing or serving.
Our $5,000 that we set aside from Laeth’s life insurance to do this will be running out at the end of the year. We would like to continue the ministry. It has been very difficult to buy and prepare good meals for 80-100 hungry folks each week. We serve our meals for less than $1.50 each so we provide a great meal at a very low cost. Any help given to us will go along way towards making a difference in someone’s life in Memphis.
We could really use help preparing the food and we can always use help serving on Thursdays. We currently serve at 6 pm but we will be moving it earlier when the time changes, probably 5 pm.
Team Laeth is only one of many ways you can help. Check out their website at teamlaeth.com
Come find out more and participate in the discussion on Tuesday, November 5 in Seabrook Hall.
“Understanding Our Homeless Neighbors” is from 6:00 to 8:00 pm and we ask for you to register for your childcare needs at cumcmemphis.org/equipping.
Read more about the event on the blog here.