I’m inspired hearing stories of people helping people, especially those living on the streets of our city. ACTS Homeless Ministry is one of those, on the frontlines of helping to meet the needs of the homeless in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. ACTS has been around for about 20 years and is part of the Central Christian Church (Mesa, AZ) family of ministries. Some of the original volunteers are still involved today.
Seed2Life International team has partnered with ACTS to help provide supplies for their upcoming 2020 Fall/Winter outreach activities. I had the privilege of spending some time with Kathy Dickinson, the director for ACTS to hear more about what they are doing and how God is using them to impact lives.
The mission of ACTS Homeless Ministry is to reach out and serve the homeless and working poor in our community with love, respect, and acceptance, and to provide for their physical and spiritual needs in order to show the love of Christ. From the start of our conversation, what stood out to me was Kathy’s reference to the people they serve as ‘guests’ and not ‘homeless people’. It’s a powerful statement on how much they respect and honor those they serve. ‘Showing kindness to the poor is equal to honoring your Maker.’ – Proverbs 14:32 (TPT)
ACTS offer two events a month at their facility in Mesa (Central Christian Church). They provide a welcoming community, where guests are served a hot sit down breakfast. Hot showers, toiletries, haircuts, a “closet” full of clothes, shoes, blankets, backpacks, and more are available. Another big part of their ministry is providing refurbished bikes. Kathy says that while it’s important they continue to help meet the tangible needs of their guests, they are also saving souls and baptizing people. At each event they share the Gospel, offer prayer, and have counselors available. In addition, a medical team is also accessible to provide basic health care needs, such as checking blood pressure, heart rate, and providing over the counter medications.
Wanting no one left out, pre-COVID, ACTS also provided transportation via vans for their guests to get to and from their events. Kathy tells me that the heart of the ACTS ministry is to simply love beyond by loving others regardless of the person’s circumstances. Pretty powerful! There have been many amazing stories over the years, but one that has been impactful is the story of a guest who had been a regular attender at their events. The man lived in his car and came to the area for the ‘warmer’ Arizona winters each year. Being a Christ follower himself, he reached out to another homeless man he’d met and brought him to an ACTS event to get him some help and the opportunity to hear about Jesus. When you know how you’ve been positively impacted yourself, you want to share the good news with others. And so, he did..
Prior to COVID, ACTS averaged about 220 guests per event. Kathy told me that when the pandemic hit, they realized that the homeless couldn’t come to them, so they decided to figure out how to take the ministry and mobilize it – taking their resources on the road and setting up the events in parks. Their facility is now open again but they maintain some restrictions due to COVID-19.
Kathy credits the success of ACTS over the years to God’s faithfulness to His Word and their amazing team of volunteers who strive to be obedient to what He has called them to do. After all, Jesus did say that when you care for one of the least important of these my little ones, my true brothers, and sisters, you demonstrate love for me. (Matthew 25:40)
Nick Tellone, Missions Research Analyst, Seed2Life International