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Hope For The Homeless-In Savannah GA.
The Homeless Ministry of The Savannah Baptist Center
A Church Home For The Homeless
A lot has happened in my life since I wrote my first hub on homelessness, which was entitled Fear of Homelessness . That writing reflected upon my experience with becoming homeless in Jacksonville Florida. I have now moved to Savannah, GA, where in spite of my best efforts, I have found myself struggling with homelessness.
However, the details of my personal experience with the ordeal of becoming homeless once again, will be the content for yet another article. In this writing, I want to share with you all some information and insights about an organization that I have discovered and have now become a member. This is the Savannah Baptist Center. As the name states, it is much more than a church, and in fact, is affiliated with around sixty different Baptist churches
Besides these churches, it is also partnered with other like minded affiliates such as Sojourner of Savannah and with Heads Up Guidance Services (or HUGS).
The Savannah Baptist Center originally got its start following a conference on April 7, 1955. The attendants of this conference included members of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board and pastors of the Savannah Baptist Association. However, this was just the begging of a long process that eventually lead to the Savannah Baptist Center being completed on April 17 1958. This was under the authorization of the Superior Court of Chatham County, Georgia. On July 31 of that year, the purchase of the land at Harris and Harbersham was completed.
It was not until the late 90's that the Baptist Center moved to its present location within a 25,000 square foot building that was once a Piggly Wiggly store. The back section of the property was being least by Family Dollar and is now being used for the Oasis facility. This was made possible by the generosity of J. C. Lewis who was the former mayor of Savannah and owner of J.C Lewis Ford.
This new location is at 704 Wheaton Street Savannah, GA. Through the years this center has increased its growth and is committed to minister to the growing homeless population of Savannah.
This includes a food pantry, clothes closet and brand spanking new laundry and shower facility, which has been named the Oasis. This latest project was finally opened in February of 2013. It consists of three washers and dryers, along with three showers and dressing areas , with fifty lockers for day storage.
With the combined effort of the Savannah Baptist Center and its many ministry partners, this Christian organization has made meeting the needs of the Savannah homeless and poverty stricken population its priority. By some calculations, this population well exceeds 6,000 women, children and men. This is within a city who's population is less than 140,000. (According to 2010 calculations).
It is fair to say, that without the help of these allied organizations, the homeless of Savannah would find themselves in even more adversity than they already face.
Feeding the physical and the spiritual.
A Home for the Homeless
J.C.Lewis- the main contributor that made the current Baptist Center possible.
Testimonies of lives Changed.
I believe it is important for us to take a look at the lives of the men and women who have been affected by their contact with the Savannah Baptist Center and it's affiliates. In my opinion, it is the Holy Spirit that is really at work at changing these lives. Even so, God has used the Baptist Center, its Pastors and volunteers to reach out to these individuals and share with them the good news of receiving salvation through Christ Jesus.
If any one would know first hand about the lives that have been effected in a positive way by the Savannah Baptist Center, it would be Tommy Pirtle, who has been working at the front desk of the Baptist Center for the last 16 months. Because of his position at the center, he has been able to witness first hand how the center has effected the homeless community in Savannah. He first came to the center as a volunteer with the youth department within the center. I asked him if in all his experiences with the center, if he had just one story he would like to share, and that is when he told me about Ronnie Brooks. This man has an inspiring story of overcoming homelessness in Savannah. I have supplied the video of his interview with WJCL News Station.
Another person who has been a big inspiration in my own life, is Stony Brannies. He is someone who had struggled with homeless in the past, and yet, has now been blessed with stable housing. He is currently involved with a transitional center made available for veterans in need. He has also volunteered with youth groups and such organizations as The Restoration House, that provided services for the needy. The video that I have provided bellow goes into better detail about how God has used the Baptist Center and other Christian organizations to help transform this man's life. This video was created by Trent Holloway who is a Christian songwriter, musician, and filmmaker. What is important to note, is that he began giving back to those who helped him while he was still homeless!
Last but not least, is Terry L. Sarkel . She now volunteers with the church, controlling the soundboard for Wednesday night prayer meeting and for church service on Sunday. I decided to go ahead and use her testimony in her own words.
"I was born to a couple during the mid-50s that really had no business having children. My father made my life quite difficult and my mother was conspicuously absent most of my life. Abuse was a daily concern and many times I had wished that I had never been born. Once I had become an adult, I wasted no time leaving, not only my home and city, but the state as well. I joined the military to earn the GI Benefits so I could go to college.After my tour of duty, I returned to my hometown and enrolled at the state university there. Shortly after the end of my freshman year, my father and I had the largest argument we ever experienced. I moved back to the state in which I spent my three years during my military service
I transferred my credits to the local college and spent my sophomore year trying to forget my childhood. I soon married my sweetheart and fell in love with my in-laws. They treated me as their own child, a far cry from the treatment I received from my father (and mother, in retrospect). I felt like my life was slowly taking shape for the better. After a few years, my old demons returned and I couldn’t shake them. While growing up, I witnessed my parents fighting like cats and dogs and had come to believe that I possessed no desire to experience that type of life. Even though I was loved by my new family, I couldn’t shake my belief that I shouldn’t be married. It became too much and after 5 ½ years, our marriage was over. I couldn’t have felt lower about myself if I tried.
I soon adopted the lifestyle I originally thought I would have by living a solitary life. It became warm and comfortable with little difficulties. My only problem was how I felt after visiting my birth family. I felt better on my way up than I did on my way back. There was always that constant reminder of why I didn’t want to spend much time there.
Throughout my life, there were times I felt I had accepted Christ in my life and that he was with me. That was truer during my adult life than during my childhood. However, I didn’t feel I was as close to the Lord as I should have been and backslid more often than walked with Him. I rarely asked for help as I felt it was my responsibility to handle all of my own problems. Then, the worst thing happened.
My father-in-law (even though I was no longer married) contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized. I prayed to God to let me take his place and let him live. He was a better human being than I was, did more good for his fellow man than I did, and was loved more than I was. I felt that taking his place was not a sacrifice but a privilege. I prayed consistently throughout that week. Then a week later he died. I felt an incredible amount of sadness and loss for the first time in my life. I was sure I would never feel again feel that amount of pain again. I loved him with all of my heart and I felt that God hurt me on purpose. My request was not a selfish one and it was a request that made me feel good about myself, only to have God ignore me. I felt deep anger and destroyed my Bibles when I returned home. I wanted nothing more to do with God.
I did whatever I could to fill the hole in my life. I attained accomplishments and experiences few people ever had. Even though I took great pride in my accomplishments, they were merely crutches to hold up my self-worth.
After many decades of trying to win my father’s love and acceptance, I came to realize that I would never receive it. I debated with myself the pros and cons of dissolving my relationship with my family. After deciding it was best for me to disengage, I decided to make one more trip to see them in 2006 to verify my decision. My trip revealed that nothing had changed and that my decision was in my best interest. Little did I know that the decision would become a double edged sword. I started down a slippery slope of depression that culminated in my desire to leave this world. After many failed attempts on my life, I eventually lost all of my possessions and became homeless. In November 2012, I walked from Atlanta to Jacksonville, occasionally offered rides by strangers, most good – one bad. I spent two weeks there with no direction in my life and decided to return to the area I spent my eleven years prior to 1986…Savannah, GA.
I began to realize that I was being protected in the many dangers I faced throughout my life, especially during my homeless period. I began to wonder whether God really existed and if so, was he keeping me here for some unspoken purpose. Less than one week before Christmas, I found myself in a small town two hours away from Savannah. I found a church and met its minister. He and his wife set me up in a motel for the night and took me to dinner. While there, we talked about my experiences that led me to my then current situation. We prayed and I sincerely asked God for forgiveness and help restarting my life on the right path. There were no trumpets, no tsunami of emotions and no light bulb realization. All I felt was an all-encompassing calm and confidence that Christ was with me to lead me through my problems. The couple drove me to Savannah and from there arranged for me to find help through the Savannah Homeless Authority.
I was directed to Inner City Night Shelter where I found a warm bed, a regular meal and structure to help me get my life back in order. One of those discoveries was a place called Savannah Baptist Center Church. My original purpose for being there was like everyone else in my status – Sunday morning breakfast with a word of God. One meal lasted for a few hours while the other lasted quite a bit longer than that. I met its pastor, Pastor Gary Larrimore and his wife, Linda. They both made me feel welcomed and respected. It didn’t take me long to realize I found my home in this church.
With God’s help, I found the support I needed from Goodwill’s program to help veterans get back on their feet. In less than one month, I procured a good job, even though it was only part-time. However, it was the hand-up I needed to start rebuilding my life after putting myself through the closest thing to Hell that I had ever experienced.
I am greatly indebted to Pastor and Mrs. Larrimore, the Savannah Baptist Center Church, the several outreach programs that feed the homeless, Goodwill Industries of Savannah and many others for helping me put my life back together. Most of all, I want to thank God for never leaving my side when I refused his help".
"Next To Nothing" -The testimony of Stony Brannies
The "Hope For The Homeless" Golf Tournament
One of the exciting events that is being provided to help the Savannah Baptist Center obtain some of its perspective goals, is the first ever Hope For The Homeless Golf Tournament, this Tournament is being sponsored by Wells Fargo. The tournament will take place at Wilmington Island Club which is located at 501 Wilmington Island Rd. in Savannah GA.
This event is to take place on Monday September 30,2013 with Registration being at 8:30 AM and with the "Shotgun start" taking place at 9:30 AM. The format will include what is known as a "Four Man Scrabble." Lunch and awards will follow immediately after the Tournament. Registration Deadline is Monday, September 23, 2013. There will also be a dress code that will include collared shirts, golf slacks or shorts but no jeans.
TOURNAMENT SPONSOR PRICE LIST
Title Sponsor ($2,000)
Tournament named for sponsor.
Company name and logo on all promotional materials and recognition in all media coverage.
Company name and logo on all promotional materials.
Company name and logo on tournament banner. Exclusive 18th hole sponsorship.
Recognition at award ceremony
Inclusion in Social Media Campaign.
Eagle Sponsor ( $1,500)
Recognition in promotional material, company name on tournament banner.
Recognition at awards ceremony and hole sponsorship.
Birdie Sponsor ($ 1,000)
Company name on tournament banner and recognition at awards ceremony.
Team Sponsorship ($575)
Individual Player ($150)
Beverage Sponsor ($ 500
Lunch Sponsor ($500)
Dedicated Hole ($300)
- Exclusive hole to exhibit and market goods and services.
Hole Sponsor ($200)
For more information on this event please contact Landy New (912) 897-1854.
Now that this event has taken place, I want to come back with an up date of how this event turned out.
This event is planed to be a yearly event to raise funds for the Savannah Baptist center, and the tournament was able to raise $9,000 dollars! Bellow are pictures of the event.
Wilmington Island Club "Hope For The Homeless" Golf Tournament
Hope For The Homeless Golf Tournament Pictures.
Savannah Baptist Center is an organization that lives its mission statement. This mission statement can be found in Acts 1: 7-8 which states....
"And you will be my witness telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth."
This center has come a long way and its leaders have a great vision for the future. These people are ready to face all of the challenges that they meet in these changing times, seeking God's guidance in all that they do,
This is why I am asking for all the Christians that read this article to remember the Savannah Baptist Center in your prayers. Not only this, but for those of you are able to contribute either though the Coming Golf Tournament, or directly to their website .
God Bless you all!
The grand opening of the Oasis shower and laundry facility
Other Ministry Partners
- Lifebridge-Inner city Mission
- Christ Church Anglican
Currently worshipping at Independent Presbyterian Church, Christ Church Anglican has been an Anglican house of worship since 1733. We seek to know Christ by being a Bible-based congregation, we seek to grow in Christ by being a family-focused communi