Stable One was born out of the personal journey of our founder, Jenny and the prayers of the Church.
Jenny writes …
In 2016 I was studying at Bible college full time and started to volunteer one day a week at a foodbank in Lilydale. I had the privilege of meeting and offering assistance to lots of people who were struggling to make ends meet. I also had my eyes well and truly opened to the issue of homelessness in my community. I had no idea just how many people, who are my ‘neighbours’, were sleeping in cars, in the open, on friend’s couches, or in sheds and porches. I have lived in the Lilydale and Mount Evelyn area for the last eight years and was completely oblivious.
One day, during our weekly community meal, I met a lady. She was middle-aged, a trained professional, well dressed and well spoken. In fact, she was just a lot like me. I was shocked when I discovered she was sleeping in her car. I had a spare room in my home and I invited her to come and stay. It worked out well and after some weeks, with support from a kind landlady, she moved into a small unit.
A few months later it was winter. I met another lady. She was around 60 years old and had lived in her car for more than a year. I helped her with food and some clothes before we parted company. That night I struggled to sleep as I imagined her in the cold. I woke the next morning to see a carpet of frost across my garden. I went off to college to my weekly theology class where God’s Word got to work transforming my life, again. We talked about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. We read:
God spoke to me in that moment. I knew I had to try to do something to help this lady, and others like her. I cried my way through the rest of class. I knew it would cost me.
I came home, invited her to our house for the weekend, and arranged a prayer meeting for the Monday night. My amazing husband and I spent the next two days listening to story after story about the journey of homelessness. Our new friend gained some respite from the cold and ate some good food, while we learned some valuable lessons.
That same night, fifteen friends filled our house with prayer. As we petitioned God and listened, we believed he was showing us three things:
- Be the Church – work together (1 Cor 12: 27).
- Love Like Jesus (Matthew 25:35-40).
- He cares about the ‘one’. If you only help one person, it’s still worth trying (Luke 15).
So I began to do some research. I knew there were many organisations offering help to people who are experiencing homelessness. In fact, I discovered there were 26 emergency relief services in our area alone, offering food parcels, meals, clothing, assistance with bills, etc. I talked to welfare agencies, to the local council, and I scoured the internet. I discovered there was a shortage of crisis, medium and long-term housing. The social housing waiting list in our area is about 20 years long for those who are eligible. Accommodation was the gap that we believed God wanted us to focus on.
I continued to call people together regularly to pray and our group grew. God’s answer began to come in the form of people who had different experiences and knowledge of schemes in other places around the world. Three different schemes, in three different countries were brought to our attention, all doing similar things – offering crisis shelter to people experiencing homelessness using church buildings. I talked to people in the US and the UK who had helped to start up programmes and who were still working through these programmes. They shared information and resources with me. I shared the vision with local pastors who were enthusiastic about trialling such a scheme, and that is how the Winter Night Shelter Pilot Project came about.
Of course, the Church is more than just a building. More than just a place to stay. The Church is all about relationship – with God and his family. We want there to be this offer of relationship as we welcome, care and demonstrate the love of Jesus to people. We desire to journey with them and seek a more stable future for them.
Stable One was born out of prayer, and that is how we will continue to operate. We want to follow God, one step at a time. We have dreams for other projects in the future and are waiting on his leading.
We exist to support the church and to help God’s people work together. We are excited to see how our projects will not only help those experiencing homelessness, but help us, the Church, to come together to practically demonstrate the love of God to our community.