"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Changing Demographics in the Homeless Community
Most people have a certain idea in their minds of what a homeless person looks like. We can certainly vouch that demographics change in different areas, but we have seen an alarming trend here in Hickory. There is a growing number of elderly and disabled people who are homeless or unhoused in our area. The extreme housing crisis consists of hardly any low-income housing being built despite a growing population in our area. The lack of housing becoming available is leaving more and more vulnerable folks on the street.
We pack our van full of walkers, canes, and wheelchairs every day as we make our way over to our day program Strong Life Rescue Mission near Conover. We take on the role of a CNA some days helping people with basic needs that are limited by mobility. It is a heartbreaking way to share Christ’s love for those that are truly in the greatest need in our community. We certainly ask for your prayer in this situation that doors would open to care facilities, senior housing, or we can find housing in other cities for those that are most vulnerable. Please pray for strength and patience for our staff as well during this season.
Back with Family
At Strong Life, we have seen two men in the past month transition back to their families. Due to the lack of housing in our area, both men were offered an opportunity to go back to family or extended family, who lived out of town and out of state. Peter is back with his family in Lenoir and came back to see us to get some of his mail and we were able to bless them with some food on their way back. Another young man Thad is back with his extended family near Charleston, West Virginia, and has started working and walking in newfound recovery.
We are reminded in our time with people that the journey seems a bit longer when you’re headed home with a limp. It reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient for the journey even when we don’t feel we have enough of our own strength to take another step. We can testify that God will give us strength and lead us home while showing us a way to a stronger life.
"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs" Isaiah 58:11a
Finding Freedom on the Journey Home
Strong Life has had the great honor of seeing extraordinary progress from our men in our transitional program. We are happy to share how God has blessed their hard work and dedication to move forward.
Our friend Thomas is a great example of someone taking the next step. Thomas came to us out of a tent over a year ago. He was battling drug addiction but came to a turning point where we could tell he wanted his life to be different. He transitioned into our program at Strong Life and quickly started working in the furniture industry. We started encouraging him and building his self-esteem in his own walk with God. He found a great church that supported him. He paid off thousands in fines and debt and saved up to buy a scooter for transportation last fall. We saw his resilience as he moved through each phase of our program. Earlier this year we took all our guys to a pizza party to celebrate his 1 year of sobriety. After looking for permanent housing for several months with no results he was holding steady and holding onto hope God would provide. This past week, we were able to link him up with a private landlord to have an apartment to call his own. When asked what Strong Life meant to him, he said “I have never felt closer to God than my time here at Strong Life.”
On the Road to Success
There are currently two men in our transitional program who are working hard and have saved to get transportation for themselves. In a time where finding permanent housing has become incredibly difficult, it is a great feat for these men to obtain transportation. This allows them to look for housing in other areas as no low-income or low-cost housing is currently available in Hickory. Having a vehicle helps them continue to get to resources, family, and work. Used vehicles have certainly increased in price so we think this is a well-recognized asset for our men to own and not be in debt.
Like the transportation that will greatly help and encourage these men, we at Strong Life have a strong desire to be the vehicle for people in need. We want to get them where they want to go in life. To journey with them to a greater destination and the plan God has for their life. Our Men's program director Jacob Inman has faithfully served this past year to do just that. He has shown God’s direction and grace to these men so they can obtain their goals and be successful. In this, we are incredibly thankful to him and to what God is doing in the lives of those in need around us.
Please pray for us as we are looking for a new housing manager for our men's program and reach out via our email if you know of anyone who may be interested in joining our team.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters…” Colossians 3:23
As humans made in God’s image, we are designed for work. Since the beginning in Genesis chapter 1, God has given mankind the task to cultivate the earth, and work helps us flourish in the way God intended! We see this clearly with the willingness of our friends to help with various projects around the Strong Life property. With summertime around the corner, we need our lawn mowed and weedeated on a regular basis. The men here at Strong Life are eager to jump in a take on this task. The men also recently dug a trench for a new plumbing pipe.
This brings up a praise and a prayer request – we have started the last stage of construction on our new multipurpose building! We will add two office spaces, a meeting room, and a bathroom over the next few months. Please pray for God’s provision in this process.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.' " 2 Corinthians 9:8-9
Springtime is Coming!
Winter is fading and springtime is approaching. The cold air and desolate trees are replaced with a gentle breeze and a sweet fragrance of fresh blooms. Spring helps to remind us that though our circumstances might appear dim, and our needs are plenty, with time, the Lord brings restoration and provision. At Strong Life Ministries, we have seen the goodness of our God provide for our ministry, for those we serve, and in our own lives tremendously over the last few months.
As the summer turned to fall and winter weather, the need for blankets was immense, and shortly it was met in abundance. While it may seem small, blankets are huge blessings as they help protect campers from freezing temperatures, and all praise to God that there were enough to last us through the cold winter days. When different needs arise, it is important to remember to reach out to others. A few weeks back our microwave broke which at first was discouraging, but with time and the generosity of our community, we were gifted not one but a few to replace our broken one.
We are beyond thankful for our supporters and know that when needs are presented, we can count on the generosity of the community for help. Just like nature changes, we are reminded of the possibilities ahead we need not fear what comes next.
The Gift of Transportation
Unfortunately, lack of transportation leads to many barriers, especially for the homeless community. However, we are ecstatic to share that in the last few weeks, we have had multiple clients able to purchase cars!
Jody Friend is one of these new car owners and what a friend she has been to others. Her car houses three other friends who now have a safer alternative than their previous living situation on the streets. Another new car owner Beverly Sigmon now has reliable transportation for employment. Beverly has been offered a job and will be starting soon. We have been thrilled to see how God has provided these cars and how having them provides safer living conditions and more opportunities to accomplish goals.
Before needs are met circumstances appear incredibly dim and even though each day has its challenges, we are reminded that springtime is coming, and the Lord’s blessings are blooming.
For more information about how you can help our ministry, please contact John Hays at 828-994-4321 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19
Love in Action
Hidden in plain sight at Strong Life is one of the secrets of our love for others. The strength of this love is exemplified by one of our faithful volunteers. Behind the desk several days a week, folks are greeted by Donna Swoverland. Donna moved here over a year ago from Texas. Even before she got to North Carolina, she knew Strong Life is where God was calling her to serve. We can vouch for her faithfulness, but it is not just her loyalty that makes a difference.
She is a gritty and gracious picture of love for our friends at the rescue mission. She was molded from the fires that decades of airline stewarding gave her in the service of others. She has the gentle touch from many years as a caretaker and the heart of a mother all while exemplifying hard work in cleaning and organizing. Donna makes our house here at Strong life a home in that she shows a tough yet tender heart to many men who didn’t grow up around a mother or haven’t seen their mother in years.
Donna is a great reminder for us about how God loves us in a variety of ways. He knows the love language of our hearts. As we move into springtime, we are reminded of how we get renewed by love. It makes a huge difference to slow down and recognize that we really are loved by God. We can then release such love to others through our actions and faith to show them such love as well.
Loving In Season and Out
The beauty of spring around the corner has encouraged our weary staff through the difficulty and pressure the winter season brings to our work at Strong Life. We are very thankful for the many prayers, meals, and support that have come our way to help get us through the wet winter we have had.
We are currently putting together spring projects that need to be done on our campus. Please let us know if you would be interested in volunteering by visiting our web page or calling 828-994-4321 for more information. If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, we pray spring is just around the corner for you.
"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19
A New Heart Of Compassion
We are excited to announce Rachel Dillingham as our case manager at Strong Life. This gives us an incredible hope that she will have a positive impact on many lives. Rachel graduated from Gardner Webb with a degree in Psychology. She will work one on one with friends to help them with employment, housing, healthcare, and addiction recovery.
She not only lays information out before people, but helps them connect and start moving forward with it. Most importantly, she listens and takes time to pray for those who need it. She is highly compassionate and excited to be a part of our team to show love to those around us in greatest need by advocating for them. Please pray for Rachel as she seeks to learn and connect with many other resources for our folks to utilize as they find their way home.
Please help us continue to make this happen. We need the friends of this ministry to get the word out to others who might be interested in volunteering with Strong Life so that we can expand our availability to the homeless community. Please take the time to forward this newsletter to those who might help. For more information about volunteering, please contact John Hays or email us at email@example.com.
"She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn" Luke 2:7
Built For Such A Time As This
All of Strong Life is very grateful God has shown His perfect timing as we prepare for the arctic weather arriving before Christmas. We have worked all year to be where we are now with construction on our new multipurpose building. In the Christmas story, rooms were so full in town that there was no place for Mary and Joseph. This made way for God’s plan of a manger birth to reveal His humility and access for all people to come to Him. This winter we are going to extra lengths to make sure we are accessible to people. Accessible to show love, mercy, and kindness and make room in our hearts for the greatest story ever! We pray there is room in your heart for this story of compassion for those being invited into this wonderful story, our story, and out of the winter cold.
Another Warm Seat!
Our new warehouse has allowed us to squeeze 10 more seats into our rescue mission to enable folks to get out of the weather and come to a safe warm place for the day. There are several churches we are very thankful for, who are willing to cook and deliver meals on Saturdays to provide a hot meal for our friends during the winter. We have extended our hours and added a day to be available to our friends 6 days a week! Please pray for us as this certainly takes its toll on resources and our staff over the next 3 months of winter.
We are currently in need of groups to sort the incredible outpouring of donations that come throughout the winter season. If you or anyone you know wants to come, please call Pastor John to schedule. We also have the need for financial provision during this season to pay heating bills and assist with gas for our bus shuttle to run extra trips to get people out of the cold. If you would like to give for the end of the year, please visit our website www.stronglifenc.org and click on the give tab.
Please know we are so very grateful for you and wish you a Merry Christmas!
“...as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:15
Thankful for Community
It can often go unnoticed, but there is a strong dynamic of community here at Strong Life and among the homeless population. Recently, we’ve seen our friends here at Strong Life pitch in on two important projects. One was sanding and painting a picnic table for use in the backyard. The other was sorting clothing donations. This was very helpful, as the clothing closet had gotten to the point of being unusable because it was so full of unsorted donations. We have also been encouraged by the way that folks chip in to clean at the end of the day. When closing time draws near, our friends are grabbing brooms, cleaning wipes, and the mop bucket! This is a tremendous blessing to the staff. We are incredibly grateful to see how this culture has grown in serving and respect over the past year.
Our gratitude shines the brightest in the darkest of times. At Strong Life we have endured a difficult season of sadness with the unexpected loss of one of our dear volunteers and advocates for those in poverty. We cried as we sat with one of our dear homeless friends and prayed as she made her final journey home in the hospital. We continue to pray in regards to the ongoing terminal illness of another. In this time of sadness, we have seen our friends show deep concern and fervently pray for those in need. We realize we are blessed to share community and the journey of life together as we navigate through these difficult times. We are yet thankful that God is our Living Hope.
Thankful for New Construction
It has been a year since we started the construction process of our multi-purpose building. We are happy to say that after we pour the sidewalks next week, we will be ready for our final inspection to complete phase one of our vision and allow this building to be available to us for the winter months ahead for overflow and storage.
Would you please help us continue to make this happen? We need the partners of this ministry to get the word out for giving Tuesday to help others who might be interested in supporting Strong Life. Would you please take the time to forward this newsletter to those who might help?
For more information about giving please visit our website www.stronglifenc.org and click on the giving tab or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Matthew 7:24
A Firm Foundation
It has been great to see the progress finally coming together for our new building. We have been praying to have it up by the winter for numerous reasons that would benefit those in need. We are happy to say God has it right on schedule. We are very thankful to Kelly Huffman with S&H Pools for doing so much to ensure we have a proper foundation for our building.
This has been a lengthy process but we know a good foundation is what everything will be built upon. It is the same way with everything we do. What happens early on really sets the tone for everything else that follows. We take this approach with all we do with building relationships or programs at Strong Life Ministries.
A Return To Service
Tony is our latest graduate from our Men's Program. He was gifted a car over a year ago that significantly helped him move toward his goals. We are even happier to say Tony has found his own place and decided to return to Strong Life to work part-time as one of our monitors. Tony is a great addition to Strong Life Rescue Mission and to the community now that he has reassessed some things and seen his value over the past year in our Men's Program. We are excited to see how God will continue to use his life as he serves others!
We are looking for blankets and men's clothing as the winter approaches. Please keep us in mind. Feel free to call us with any questions about donations or dropping off items. You can reach us at 828-994-4321.
"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm, and a shade from the heat." Isaiah 25:4
A Shade For Rest
With the Summer sun, comes a new set of challenges and bright victories for those in need in our community. Battling issues of heat exhaustion, sunburn, bugs, and another resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak has not been easy. The bright side is the positive response we have had from the community to supply for the needs of those experiencing homelessness. From an outpouring of water bottles to tons of bug spray, sunscreen, and more, it has been a delight seeing how quickly needs have been met. Recently, we have been able to set up fans and pavilions outside to help with the overcrowding of our day center and help those outside stay cool, thanks to our financial contributors. Simply put, the beauty of God’s love and provision shines brightest the greater the need. We get to see this outpouring of love daily as we receive donations from loving and compassionate hearts desiring to help folks navigate through the difficulties they face.
We are growing from the ground up as our construction for our expansion has officially begun. We are happy to announce that the foundation for the warehouse and office spaces will be ready to be poured by the end of this month. It is an exciting time for this ministry!
Preparing a Foundation
Although we have many needs as an organization, we are incredibly grateful to serve a God who provides. Pastor John was reminded of this as a young boy came in hungry last week looking for food. Shortly after he came in, he found a peach tree ready for harvest on the Strong Life property and asked if he could pick some. We gave him a bag and told him to take as much as he would like. The joy on the young boy’s face as he ate the peaches is a beautiful reminder of God’s providence. God meets our needs before we even know what they are.
What about you? As you desire to help the needs of others, what is your need today? Perhaps it is not something you can see on the outside but a need in your heart or an emotional need. The beauty we have seen at Strong Life this past month is the continued reminder of God’s provision for our needs today, no matter what they are or how great they may seem.
To find more ways in which you can help the homeless during the summer heat reach out to us through our website: www.stronglifenc.org.