The little boy’s legs were twisted in unnatural angles and were clearly useless. He was on his face in the filthy dirty and crowded street. Before you could see him, you heard his cries for help. Plaintive, haunting pleadings for aid. In the press of the crowd, my wife and kids could only view and hear the sight but could not stop to help before being pressed further. It was a scene that disturbed her for the rest of the trip through China. It proved to haunt her ever since as well.
The effect was one of regret mixed with resolve. How could she leave that sad little boy crying in the street? The only way to deal with the memory has been to purpose to never leave another little boy or girl in such desperation. We live too far from China to reach out to young beggars in a market. But, we found a large community of needy people in our own back yard.
In South Toledo, there is a community of people who are in desperation as great as the young Chinese boy. On the first day of Kindergarten, these kids score 60% below your kids in the suburbs. By the first day they ever meet a teacher, they are already 75% behind my kids in terms of vocabulary words. Four of every ten of their parents have failed to graduate from high school and almost none of these kids live with their biological fathers. Census data for this are shows an average income of around $12,000 per year.
It is this community that my wife and I were called to serve back in 2007. These are the people that we are privileged to care for. These lost souls are the ones with whom we get to share the message of the Love of God. This love is now manifest in the 200 or so volunteers from area churches who help us each month. It is demonstrated in the tens of thousands of dollars donated by people who care for Toledo’s poor. Our desperate people are now getting free medical care thanks to the conviction of foreign-born doctors.
Oddly, this is the last assignment I could have wanted in His Kingdom. I am a country boy working in the hood. I longed for that beach evangelism job in the Caribbean. But, God called us to Western Avenue Ministries six years ago and we are in love with His plan and His people. His glory is our protection and He answers our prayers, just as He promised.
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’”
With His leading and provision, we are now serving 3 meals a day in collaboration with nearby churches. We are passing out groceries twice per week, teaching GED classes and parenting classes. We provide counseling and health care as well as multiple Bible Studies and two church services per week. We distribute clothes and household items because our guests don’t have them.
We exist because of donations and volunteers from all across the region. If you would like to learn more about Western Avenue Ministries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 419.344.5844 or check out our Facebook page.