Ministry Update 5-7-20

In today’s update, I want to tell you what’s going on in our Philippines ministry. As you know, the community quarantine has been in effect there for several weeks now. Only one family member is permitted to go outside the home on certain days for essential items.

Thankfully though, our ministry team has been granted special permission due to the fact that they are caring for people in need. Not only have they taken care of many poor families who don’t have enough to make ends meet, they are also feeding workers who are on the front lines in the Cover-19 battle. Basically, the love of God has been spread generously by pastor Ner and his team during these troubling weeks. In the picture below, pastor Ner is feeding one of those workers.

In the last week, the team has been caring for the poor on the streets. In Bacolod City where their work is concentrated, there are many people who are suffering with mental illness. Thankfully, the team sees them no differently than anyone else they serve. With love and compassion, they share God’s blessings with the hope that His Word will also be received.

One of our Philippines ministry board members lives on the island of Mindanao. We were able to send them support for relief efforts and they have also been doing a terrific job. At one point, after distributing relief goods to a group of people, pastor Remada took the opportunity to preach and there were several decisions made for Christ.

As of today, we have sent the Philippines team $5,485 for relief efforts. They have served over 465 front line workers, distributed more than 500 relief packages, given away Bibles, gospel tracts, and N95 masks. I also instructed the team to care for many of the poorer church members who are in need and they have seen to that generously. The best news is that through all of this, more than 110 people have made decisions for Christ.

On behalf of each person in need, I want to thank you, our donor, for the support you have given in the recent weeks. We began this quarantine with many uncertainties, but God has blessed with souls saved and many others helped in various ways.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Ministry Update 04-22-2020

I hope everyone is making it through your time of quarantine as well as possible. Today I’d like to give you an update on our local ministry here in the Cullman, AL area. We will have another Philippines update toward the end of the week.

We have seen a slight uptick in the amount of requests for help in the recent weeks with over twenty-one people calling upon us for help and most of them are right here in Cullman County. Last week alone, we assisted seven people with lodging in motel rooms and one gentleman with lodging at a local park. One of these is a mother with two teenage children.

There is another family that we have been working with for over a month who has an eight year old boy. They are searching for housing but having a very hard time because they are a one income family and their only vehicle has a bad transmission. Getting back and forth to work each day is a challenge in itself and they are currently living in a tent. The child is being well cared for and is their top priority but there are so many challenges they are facing.

Homelessness is always complicated. This family has limited income, the father has a debilitating physical condition, the mother has over $3000 in fines because she was caught driving (to work) a couple times with no license or insurance. On top of all that, there are other real family issues and also depression. Tara has been working diligently with this family and we are committed to helping them climb out of this deep, dark hole. Please help us pray for God to open the right doors for them and to give us wisdom as we are walking alongside of them and assisting the best we can.

We had some sad news last week as we learned that one of the men who Tim had been helping since last November died in a fire inside a hotel room. The details are yet to be known in full, but we do know that he was suffering and fighting many battles at the time of his death. Tim had spent a lot of time counseling with him and trying to convince him to get the right help. Please pray for his family as they are now grieving his tragic death.

The young man that I led to the Lord a few weeks ago, Nathaniel, called on Sunday and reported that he landed a job. He is excited to start work again and hopefully, work his way back into a good place.

Please remember all of these as you pray this week. Also, please continue to pray for our Philippines team as they are still busy feeding people who cannot get out and work because of their quarantine. Thank you so much for following along with us each week.

SPECIAL UPDATE!!

This update was written early Monday morning. By Monday afternoon, God had answered prayers for two of the clients we have been helping. Tim was able to take the gentleman that we assisted last week with lodging at the park to a home in Mississippi and he is now off of the streets. See the picture below of Tim transporting him, safely! The family that was staying in a tent with an eight year old boy that we have been working with for over a month is moving into their new place today. The mom was diligent in searching until she found an affordable place to rent. We will continue to assist them with housing items, food, etc. to get them a good start in their new home. If you would like to donate, email Tara at tara@unsheltered.org for more information or donate on our website by following this link.

 

Ministry Update 4-15-20

We are giving God the glory today for his goodness and mercy during this global pandemic that we are experiencing. Last week we put out a call to action for our Philippines ministry and many of our supporters responded generously.

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Because of that response, we were able to send $1,600 to our Philippines team to purchase relief food. They began to purchase the food as soon as they received the funds. Although it was difficult because of limited travel and shopping abilities, they were able to secure several bags of rice and other food items.

As soon as the team was able to prepare individual food bags that contained a few kilos of rice and the other canned goods, they began distribution. The primary areas of focus were the meal centers where we normally have our weekly feeding ministries. Those ministries have been disrupted for the last couple weeks due to the stay-at-home orders which are in place.

Because of those orders, many of these families are really suffering and don’t have adequate food. Some are only able to eat one time per day. That’s where the relief foods come in! Sister Merliza reported to me that they have already delivered more than 318 bags of food in several of the villages where our meal centers are located.

Our team has worked tirelessly to package these goods and get them distributed to the most vulnerable people. Please continue to pray with us for their protection and for God’s provision. This first round of relief was a blessing, but they will need more.

We are planning on sending another offering at the end of this week so if you wanted to give before but couldn’t, this is your opportunity. You can use this link to give now with your card, or, mail in your gift using the address below. If you are planning to mail your gift, please reply to this email and let me know so that we can count your gift in the total and get it sent ASAP.

I don’t know of anything much better than feeding hungry children in Jesus’ name. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly how God has opened the door in the last few years to enable us to share the gospel and see hundreds of people come to Christ for salvation!

Thank you for giving and being a part of this critical time. It does me good to know that together, we are making a difference! To God be the glory.

 

COVID-19 and our Philippines Ministry

The island in the Philippines where our ministry is headquartered has been on lock down since about March 30th due to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

As you can see in the above pictures, a gate has been constructed at the main road entering the subdivision where our rescue center is located. No one can enter, or leave, without valid ID and an acceptable reason. Much of the work has come to a halt and a city that is usually bustling with hundreds and hundreds of people is now mostly quiet.

The real issue that this quarantine causes for poor families in this area is hunger. Most of the people live in homes that don’t have refrigerator’s or other places to store food for long periods of time. Even if they did have those conveniences, they don’t have enough money to stock up, even during normal times. Now, with no work, they are really struggling.

Pastor Ner has told me that some families in our meal centers are only eating once a day so that they can ration food. We cannot prepare the meals and go serve at this time, however, pastor Ner can deliver bags of food to families. He has already made food available to the church members and they will be buying especially for the families in the meal centers in the next day or so.

 

They will be using the meal center money for this month to buy the food, but it’s not enough to meet the demand. With that in mind, we are going to send a special offering tomorrow that will be used to buy rice and other staple foods to make up these much needed food bags for the suffering families.

If you want to contribute to this special need, you can use this link to donate online now. Or, you can mail your gift using the address at the bottom of this email. (Due to the time-sensitive nature, if you plan to mail a check, please respond to this email and let us know. We will go ahead and send it tomorrow if we know the check is on the way.)

I know there are a lot of needs right now. I know many of you are also in need. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for prayer or help if you need us.

Blessings,
Travis

Results and schedule changes

We are all excited because of the outpouring of generosity during our share-a-thon style live fundraiser last Thursday. This was our annual fundraiser that we count on to fund about 52% of our annual operating budget. In other words, it was a critical day for us! It took a lot of preparation on our part and a lot of generosity on your part. I am beyond thankful for our board of directors who worked hard to help raise the funds and for those of you who made it happen.

 

 

After all was said and done, the total amount given during this effort was $69,412

Because we fell a little short of our goal, we had to re-visit our annual budget to make some adjustments. But life is full of those kind of adjustments so we have made them and we have a balanced budget for this fiscal year (March 1st-February 28th.)

Here is the really great news. Through your generosity, our giving for this fundraiser increased this year by 121% over last year! To us, that is such great news. It means that we are growing and the Lord is blessing abundantly. For that, we are extremely grateful.

So one more time, Thank you to everyone who gave and helped in this success.

Last week was also our annual board of directors meeting. We had a very productive meeting and I am truly grateful for each of their sacrifices and commitment to this ministry.

Schedule changes

As expected, we have had to make some schedule changes due to new restrictions set forth by the CDC and state governments. We have postponed the Cullman, AL resource clinic that was scheduled for March 28th. We have also been forced to cancel the Elkton, MD resource clinic which is scheduled for April 25th. We will keep you posted on any future updates.

Please be sure to keep the unsheltered population in your prayers as they are one of the most vulnerable segments of our society on a daily basis, not to mention during a crisis such as the one we are currently with the Cover-19 outbreak.

Once again, thank you for your generosity and prayers.

Year-To-Date in Cullman, AL by Travis Sharpe

Every week we receive calls at our office here in Cullman, Alabama from people who are desperate for help. Some of them have housing and are looking for assistance with food or clothing or utilities. Others are homeless and seeking a safe place to lay their head. The needs are many.

So far this year, we have been contacted by twenty seven people who were actually homeless right here in Cullman County Alabama. Most of those are residents of Cullman or have some sort of history or family here in town. Others have called who are not homeless but are in need.

Here’s how we have helped some of the people who were unsheltered.

  • A single lady was placed in a motel for two nights.
  • A single mom with three children was placed in a motel for two nights and given food.
  • A single male was given food, shower, clothing and a ride to the mission in Huntsville. He also got saved.
  • A deaf man who had spent the night in some bushes was bought a bus ticket and reunited with family.
  • A homeless couple was given a camper trailer so that they would have a safe place to live.
  • A single male was given clothes, a shower, food, and we helped him get his birth certificate and state ID.
  • An older male was given a bus ticket to a shelter where a bed was waiting.
  • $1,055 worth of goods and services were given to the others not mentioned above.

Our dream to have a tiny-home village here in Cullman is a real need. The young man who got saved in my office on a Friday, wanted to come to church with me that Sunday and make a public profession of his faith. The problem is that he had already spent two nights outside and it was rainy and cold, making it an extremely unsafe situation for him. The tiny-home village would have been a real answer.

The homeless couple who we gave the camper to could also benefit from the village. It would be safer for them and they could be surrounded by people and learn how to interact again. I could go on and on about the possibilities but you get he point.

That’s why we are praying for God’s provision and asking him to supply us with the land needed to build this village. I know that the village we dream of will not be an answer for everyone we encounter because homelessness is a very complex issue. It will however, be the answer for some, and we are concerned about them!

Read all about our tiny-home dream here.

As you probably already know, we are having our annual share-a-thon style fundraiser this Thursday evening from 6-10pm EST. It will be broadcast live on the Unsheltered International Facebook page and our goal is to raise $100,000. I wish all of that could go toward the tiny-home project, but the fact is that we have to maintain the other great programs of Unsheltered also. But if we meet, or even exceed the goal, we will be able to put some toward this dream!

Please pray with us, watch Thursday evening, and recruit others to watch and donate as well. Let’s find out together what God will do as we are faithful to serve him and serve those in need.

What a Difference a Year Makes by Travis Sharpe

Last year we traveled down to Biloxi, MS to spend some time helping pastor Brad Newsome of Lighthouse Baptist Church. The Lord had been impressing upon pastor Brad’s heart that he needed to be helping the many homeless individuals that frequented the neighborhoods around his church.

He knew that God wanted him to do something, but he wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. That’s where we came in. He called us asking for help, so myself, Tim Barbee, and Steve Battles answered the call. We spent three days with pastor Brad and brother Wynn teaching them how to discover where unsheltered people live and how to interact with them.

That Saturday, we drove behind a Winn-Dixie grocery store where there was a very small patch of woods just beyond the chain link fence that ran the distance of the back alley. Noticing a well-worn trail leading into the woods, we stopped the truck to investigate.

We followed the trail a few yards and that’s where we saw an old mattress that was being used for a makeshift lean-to type structure. It didn’t appear that anyone was there, but we called out “is anyone home?” We were surprised when the lean-to moved and a bearded man crawled out to meet us.

 

His name was Richard. We talked for a long while and invited him to come to church with us on Sunday. Arrangements were made and brother Wynn picked him up the following morning and brought him to Sunday school and church. Here’s a picture we took after church that Sunday.

 

That was one year ago. This past weekend, Tim and I went back to Biloxi to assist the church again and we were thrilled to find out that Richard was still there! In fact, Richard has lived at the church this entire time. They made him a room and the pastor has become his guardian. He has been caring for him and discipling him. This year of receiving care has made a tremendous difference in Richard’s life that is evident to everyone.

 

We found out that Richard is a veteran who was suffering from PTSD and CTE. These conditions have caused him to have great mental challenges such as remembering things and keeping his right train of thought. He was living in the woods and trying his best to survive on his own while fighting his illnesses all by himself.

Richard got saved and has learned so much about following the Lord and trusting others. He has developed meaningful friendships and those have proven to pay off. He told us that he was suicidal the day we found him a year ago. He had a gun and a plan to end his life. He thanked us for finding him and pastor Brad and brother Wynn for not giving up on him over the past year.

This year hasn’t been easy for Richard or for pastor Brad. There have been ups and downs as Richard is fighting his demons and trying to live for the Lord. But he has hung in there and God has blessed. It was great to see him again!

Richard’s story begs the question, what about you? is there someone waiting on you to find them? Could God have someone out there who needs your love and care over the next year? Are you available if the Lord leads you to disciple someone so that their life can be put back together one step at a time? I hope so!

Please pray for Richard and the men who are discipling him and don’t forget to ask the Lord what he wants you to do.

Ministry Update 2-25-20

Today’s update is all about our Philippines ministry.Special thanks to Pastor and Mrs. Ner for their hard work and dedication.

In spite of all the things they don’t have, and even in the face of sickness and persecution, the Filipino people are resilient. I believe that our team is extra resilient. They continue to work hard to help the mentally ill homeless, the street children, and the many vulnerable children in our meal centers.

Sister Merliza told me that one of the young men who they have been helping is getting ready to go to Manila for training in a new job on a fishing boat. This will be hard work but it is an opportunity for a good income. James has lived on the streets for a while and worked very low-paying jobs but he is a very smart young man with great potential.

A couple years ago there was another young man named Peter who did the same thing and he still stays in contact with the team and is doing very well. He’s not on the streets anymore!

There is another client from the street ministry who has begun to sell vegetables to better their life and a few more who have recently gained employment as construction workers on a nearby island.

Meal centers

The meal centers are doing well and some of them have even increased in number over the past couple of months. One of the centers is operated by Pastor Ricky and Crossroad Community Baptist Mission In LaCastellana. He sent me this picture of a man named Edgardo. Edgardo was homeless and has no family so Pastor Ricky has been allowing him to stay at their church.

As always, the UIP team is compassionate and loving as they try to win every soul to Christ as they can and help as many people as they can with tangible needs such as food and shelter and clothing.

Please continue to pray for Pastor and Mrs. Ner, Pastor Ricky, and all of the UIP family as they serve the Lord with all their might. Please pray for good health and for God’s hand of protection and provision. As of now, Pastor’s Ricky’s meal center at LaCastellana is one that does not have a sponsor. Please help us pray for a sponsor for them.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Don’t forget about our BIG Facebook Live fundraiser that a is approaching quickly! Click here for all the details.

Full report from New Orleans revival

The 2020 winter revival for the unsheltered is in the books and we are thrilled at what God accomplished this week. From the day we arrived, all the way until the last amen yesterday, our team worked tirelessly and the Lord added his rich blessing each day.

The above picture pretty much sums up the attitude of the week and the heart of our ministry. It’s all about loving God and taking his love to the broken. I’m thankful for Christians who will sit down and put their arm around a hurting soul and simply love them in Jesus name!

Results

Here are the results from the week, at least the ones we know about. I’m inclined to believe there are always decisions we never know about and lasting effects we will not see until Heaven. Nonetheless, here’s what we know!

6 People made decisions for Christ
227 Guests were in attendance
873 Meals were served
45 People received Bibles
151 People received clothing
130 People received hygiene products
32 People received haircuts

The Mayor visits

It was an encouragement to us to have New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell visit with us on Monday. She was gracious and let us know that she was thankful for our investments in her city.

Fighting the weather

I’m thankful for everyone who made this week possible and especially the ones who participated by working so hard each and every day. Each day brought new challenges. One day there was a sudden hail storm that destroyed our tents, followed by heavy rain and flooding in the church the next day. Several of our team members worked right through the rain, getting soaking wet, only to continue serving our guests for the rest of the day. They are extremely committed!

Visiting on the streets

One of the highlights of this week was visiting people out on the streets where they live. Our teams bravely and graciously fought the elements each day to pass out flyers and invite people to come to the revival. They prayed with people, gave away needed snack bags, and simply loved on everyone the best they could.

A mother gave up her Marijuana

During the invitation on Wednesday, a lady who is mother to several young children came to the altar broken hearted. God had convicted her about her drug use and she literally placed it on the altar and asked one of our team members to throw it away. She was sick and tired of that lifestyle and the problems that it was bringing.

A lady joined the church

Another lady, named Benita, came forward during the invitation on Wednesday saying she wanted to join the church. She was so sweet and so sincere. The pastor counseled with hear and they will be receiving her into their fellowship. This is so important because if she will stick with them, she will have a great network of new family to help her overcome homelessness.

Lots of children were here

As usual, there were lots of children who attended each day. While our hearts break for their plight, we are grateful for the opportunity to minister to these precious little ones.

Much more!

Of course, there was much more that took place throughout the week. If I tried to report it all there wouldn’t be enough room! Thank you so very much for praying with us and for following the updates. We appreciate all of your involvement.

Our live fundraiser is coming up soon!

Please be much in prayer about our Facebook live fundraiser that is coming up on Thursday March, 12th from 6pm-10pm. This is our largest fundraising effort of the year and our goal is $100,000.

To be completely honest, we need your help to reach our goal that evening. We have been blessed with one headline sponsor who will be sponsoring the 6-7 pm hour. This gracious sponsor has given $2,500 and we are so very thankful for them. We are looking for three more headline sponsors who will jump on board before March 12th to help us get started off right!

Please help us pray for the Lord’s provision.

Thank you again, and many blessings.

We’re off to a great start!

The Lord has been blessing here in New Orleans and our Winter revival for the unsheltered is off to a great start. Our team arrived on Saturday and the orientation meeting was that evening. Then, Sunday morning was church at Terrytown Family Baptist Church with pastor Terry Rodgers.

Brother Mark Thrift from Houston, TX preached the first message and I (Travis) preached the second message. We were blessed to have Rusty Nail Crossing singing for us. The best part of the day was the two people who got saved during the invitation.

When Monday rolled around, our team worked hard to set everything up at the church and get us ready for the week. We spent the afternoon out on the streets visiting and passing out snack bags and flyers inviting everyone to the revival.

We finished up Monday with dinner and chapel service at Grace Baptist Church where pastor Shannon Foote encouraged us to trust in the Lord with a great message from Psalms 37. I sure appreciate the help that Grace Baptist has been to us each time we come to New Orleans.

Tuesday started before 6 am for the kitchen crew as they began to prepare breakfast and lunch for the day. Then, after breakfast we started our first revival service. Once again, Rusty Nail Crossing sang and brother Mark Thrift and pastor Clemon Chappell did the preaching.

When the service was over, or team provided a great lunch for all the guests along with access to haircuts, clothing, hygiene items and brand new Bibles. I’m so thankful for the hard work of our team this year and the fervent prayers of our friends and supporters.

You can watch this week!

We are live-streaming the services on the Unsheltered International Facebook page so that you can get a taste of what the Lord is doing here this week. Look for the broadcast today and tomorrow beginning somewhere around 10 am.

Thanks so much for following as we invest in the lives of hundreds of broken people this week.