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Harrisonburg Members Host Homeless
Story by Mary Long
Cherith Cox, director of the Harrisonburg church’s Homeless Outreach ministry, accepts a hug from Roger.
During the week of December 5-12, more than 30 homeless men and women lined up to receive the meals that Potomac Conference's Harrisonburg (Va.) church members prepared and served. Cherith Cox, director of the Homeless Outreach ministry, plans the meals for both breakfast and dinner, then coordinates with church members and local businesses to provide the food necessary to feed the growing numbers in the community.
“When I look at these people, I see Jesus,” Cox says as she explains her passion for this ministry, which she has led for three and a half years. “Reading Matthew 25:31-40 changed my life. I realized that when I serve a meal, I’m feeding Jesus. When I’m washing their dirty clothes, I’m washing Jesus’ clothes. When I give them a hug, I’m hugging Jesus.”
The Harrisonburg church is one of several churches that partners with the Harrisonburg and Rockingham Thermal Shelter (HARTS), a nonprofit organization that provides hot meals and warm beds to homeless individuals during the coldest months of the year. The workers take time to eat, fellowship and pray with anyone who comes to visit the HARTS host site. Sometimes they just sit and listen or offer a hug and words of encouragement. Church members also take turns doing laundry and staying overnight at the shelter.
“They are not that different from any of us,” comments Dale Long, who pastors the Harrisonburg church. “Many of us are just one paycheck away from being in that same situation ourselves.”
Harrisonburg members will have another opportunity to minister to this special people group again in January.