Miracles Begin in the Homeless Ministry
“She was here today! And she brought her daughter to junior high!”
The beaming young man with this welcome news was among the laborers for Christ who greeted Jordan Abel and Ruebenn Anderson on the Crosspoint patio after the Palm Sunday 2022 church service. Jordan and Ruebenn were there to share how the Lord placed a desire in their hearts to start a ministry in which “God can do miracles in the lives of the homeless.”
At the same time the young man stopped by, Jordan had been recounting his encounter with that same woman whom he’d met a week earlier at a nearby park: “We were handing out sandwiches to some homeless people, and ended up in a theological discussion with a guy who was claiming to be God. Things were getting a little heated. I could tell he didn’t want to hear what I wanted to tell him so I had to move on. I was talking to the other guys about how I felt like I could've handled it better when a woman came up to me and asked if I liked poetry. When I said yes, she started rapping about her life! She went on to say how much she appreciated what we do, that it was an answer to prayer, and wanted a church for herself and her daughter.”
On the patio a few minutes earlier, two women came up to hug the duo and tell them how excited they were about this outreach, with one offering to obtain more gospel tracts for distribution. The ministry began in March. Participation doubled to 16 volunteers in April. As more people hear about it, enthusiasm keeps growing.
Responding to Neighbors in Need
In seemingly affluent Orange County, an estimated 7,000 men, women and children are sleeping outside, in an emergency shelter, or in transitional housing. Nearly 400,000 individuals are living in poverty, with many living just a paycheck away from homelessness.
When people see a homeless person, many tend to avoid them. Jordan counters, “There is a very strong precedent for us to go out and help those in need, such as when Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan, about helping a man get back on his feet. We don’t want them to see us as nice people doing nice things. It’s about honoring Jesus and doing what He calls us to do.”
Ruebenn cites Mark 10:25. “’The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve,’” he quotes, adding, “There are so many verses that tell us to show love to our neighbors and to ‘the least of these.’”
It’s also common to dismiss the homeless as having chosen that lifestyle. “That’s such a dehumanizing blanket statement and not a fair assessment,” insists Jordan. “Unfortunately, some do choose it. Others grew up in crappy situations and it’s all they’ve known. But they’re not all on drugs or want to be in that predicament. We’re still called to love them. No one can rightly look down on them.”
They also refute the claim that feeding is enabling. Jordan explains, “When we’re bringing them food, we’re opening up a window to the gospel. They are open to talking about spiritual things 9 out of 10 times. It’s a ripe harvest.”
Ruebenn agrees, adding, “Sharing Jesus with them is so much better than just sharing a meal. We pray with them and share the gospel, to bring restoration and freedom into their lives.”
Overseen by Pastor Jim Gane, the Homeless Ministry meets on the first Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to noon. After receiving a training talk and praying, volunteers are paired into groups of two to three. They pack their cars with baggies containing a peanut butter and jelly or turkey sandwich, fruit, a drink, a tract about the gospel and an invitation to come to Crosspoint. Covering about a 12-mile radius, they go wherever the homeless may be, from parks and under freeway overpasses, to the area around the Huntington Beach pier.
Both in their 20s, Ruebenn and Jordan have first invited members of Crosspoint’s Young Adults group to join them in forming the ministry. One of the young women’s moms who was walking by on the patio also stopped to chat with the new ministry’s leaders. “My daughter has a tender heart for the homeless, but tends to be naive. I want to know that if she shows up it’s going to be safe,” she told them.
Jordan assures, “Everyone’s safety is a top priority. In the training we talk about the importance of gauging a situation. For example, if a person is yelling and screaming, it’s wise not to approach. We make it clear that there’s always the option of walking away if volunteers feel they need to. We also pair the volunteers to have at least one man and one member who has experience with ministering to the homeless.”
The Test in Ruebenn’s Testimony
Ruebenn claims his compassion and love for the homeless has increased because of what he’s gone through. Even though Ruebenn’s grandmother is a pastor and he grew up going to church in the Moreno Valley area, he describes having a street mentality and “for a split second” even sleeping under a bridge. “In my teens I associated with people in gangs, had premarital sex, smoked weed and drank. The combination of those sins led me to become unstable in a few areas.
“When I was in the hospital, I saw people who were homeless. I felt for them even more because I know what it’s like to mentally suffer – I’ve experienced that hardship, and endured that spiritual warfare. By 2016, I realized that life was not for me and I needed to become mentally stable. I needed Jesus and started living for Him. I stopped smoking and drinking.”
Ruebenn subsequently graduated from a diesel mechanic program, went to work for the Orange County Transportation Authority, and in 2017 started attending church at CrossPoint. To strengthen his faith, he attends a men’s midweek Bible study. He also learned how to love and care for the homeless by helping out with Orange County Rescue Mission’s Chili Van Homeless Food Ministry.
“I can tell others what Jesus has done in my life,” shares Ruebenn. “He’s changed me drastically.”
While a student at UCLA, Jordan participated in a homeless outreach. After graduation, the Bakersfield native moved to Aliso Viejo in 2020 for his first job as a mechanical engineer. In the midst of the pandemic that year when services were outside, he began coming to CrossPoint. Although it’s a 17-mile drive to church, he believes “a church alive is worth the drive.”
Jordan also grew up with a Christian influence at home. He recalls, “I was baptized in high school but didn’t really understand what it meant, and for a time I was under the influence of drugs. In 2016, I surrendered my life to Christ. Earlier this year at CrossPoint, I received a believer’s baptism.”
One Sunday under the tent at a CrossPoint service, he “just happened” to sit down next to Ruebenn. They struck up a conversation and kept in touch. One Sunday after the service they went for lunch and learned about each other’s interest in starting a homeless ministry here. Jordan approached the pastors, who have come alongside to help make it happen.
Jordan and Ruebenn both give God the glory for all that’s been and will be achieved. Jordan states, “We’re seeing God’s hand at work. I’m praying that He sustains this ministry as we become more firmly established for a stronger presence and long-term effectiveness, with more staff and more homeless people coming to our church.”
Jordan and Ruebenn see each encounter as an opportunity for us to point people to the hope of the gospel, and we are blessed in the process. Ruebenn recalls, “One guy who received a meal from me said he wanted to pray for me – he beat me to it! I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ That was amazing. How can he be homeless yet still care about me?”
A Call to Come Alongside
Anyone at CrossPoint who is interested in outreach to the homeless community is welcome to help. Join Jordan and Ruebenn in CrossPoint’s Student Ministry Center on the first Saturday of the month at 9:30 a.m.
Whether or not you are able to join in person, Jordan asks, “Please pray that God would be with us when we go out, and fill us with His Holy Spirit. Pray that He would give us wisdom for every encounter and word we speak, and that we would obey God's perfect will as ambassadors of Christ. Ask that He would save the people we minister to and bring them off the street.”
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