For nearly eight years, a man lived in the woods only connecting with the outside world through a local church. In return for their friendship, occasional benevolence and the opportunity to escape the elements, he was helpful in their food pantry. The church, however, knew that greater things were possible for this man and frequently leveraged Micah’s help to problem-solve his various obstacles.
“It was hard for me to trust other people,” he later confessed. “My life has not particularly been full of experiences that validate other people’s intentions. I’m not used to believing other people want to help.”
His perspective broadened, however, as he gradually began to engage with the ministry the churches have organized through Micah. Once he could accept it, housing was made available to him. Care was coordinated through any number of community services, such as the Moss Clinic, Rappahannock Area Community Services Board and Social Security. And his landlord even opted to try him out on a couple of painting jobs.
“The next thing I knew I was saving money, helping to pay rent and living life and loving it once again,” he later wrote to Micah and its churches. “You all have had a part in helping me to transform my life in such a dramatical and systematic way that after being here at my home for almost a year I still sit down and think about how everyone at Micah worked as a team to help get my life and my way of thinking back to normal. I must say that it makes me cry like a little child with praise and appreciation for all that the churches are doing through Micah. May you all have a very high place in heaven and may God bless you all for saving my life.”
This story was possible last year because our churches have mobilized time, resources and influence to move people from the street to permanent housing. In the last year, the churches have supported 75 of the most challenged homeless individuals people with permanent housing. Many of them live with mental illness, learning disabilities, physical illnesses and other disabilities that would have made it impossible for them to self-resolve. Since 2010, efforts the churches have made to house people has reduced chronic homelessness by 84%.