Last Wednesday, almost 300 blessings were delivered to just under 100 neighbors in Charlotte through a partnership between Elevation Uptown Campus and Sole 2 Soul Mission. 85 pairs of shoes and boots, 90 pairs of socks, 96 stainless steel water bottles, and 20 bottles of sunscreen were delivered to men and women who are currently without homes, some who protected this country as service men and women and are now living as homeless veterans.
The men and women now have sunscreen to protect their skin and water bottles to keep their water cold for hours when it’s hot and sunny, and a real-life example of what the love of Jesus Christ looks like to help them weather the storms of life. Nearly 100 people witnessed the promise of hope and salvation through the good news of Jesus Christ. Out of the nearly 300 blessings offered, 1 even offered eternal salvation. One man rededicated his life back to Jesus because of this 1-day, inner-city mission trip led by Elevation and S2S leadership. And because of that, the other almost 100 people now have a tangible example of what redemption of someone with a story similar to theirs looks like.
He had lived a life that was full of the seemingly unbreakable cycle of addiction to drugs and alcohol, and he was now homeless and hopeless. Until last Wednesday, when he was met with smiles, given shoes and other basic necessities, and was reminded of his worth; he was reminded that Jesus already paid for his sins.
Two Elevation Uptown Campus Pastors, the Outreach Director, and 8 Summer Interns were very familiar with the setting – inner-city interactions with the homeless are what Elevation Uptown often specializes in – but the crew from Elevation shared that they had never experienced that kind of love that had been shared between the receivers and the givers. In all their time working in the streets with those who are without hope, they had not ever seen the presence of God quite like this.
Sole 2 Soul spends intentional time with the recipients of the shoes, socks and other items by getting to know them and their situation, and then praying with them, often the salvation prayer. S2S utilizes this model of going right into the neighborhoods of the people they serve, just like Elevation Uptown and Elevation Outreach, instead of waiting for them come to their locations. At times though, individuals do come to the church locations to seek help but are often reluctant at first. A good example was back in March of this year when a man who had been stolen from visited the Elevation Uptown Campus and received his pair of shoes, the last in his size, from S2S (read more about this on the S2S Blog - Sunday Shoes).
S2S and Elevation met a few men, Mike and TC, who needed different sizes that the team had ran out, and S2S and Elevation invited them to visit to receive just the right pair of shoes. They have both promised that they would visit Elevation Uptown this week. Because of the love and compassion that was shown, the men feel welcomed into the church.
You and your family and friends can help spread more love by participating in the S2S events during the upcoming Love Week where S2S, Elevation Church Outreach, and The Harvest Center will come alongside other volunteers in the community to wash the feet of children and provide them with a clean pair of socks and new shoes.
Marissa Hughes will be the Love Week Volunteer Coordinator for S2S events this year. Previously, she served alongside Uptown Outreach staff last year during Love Week and has since participated in outreaches with S2S. Originally, she was going to go to Nicaragua for a missions trip, but because of civil unrest, she had to postpone her trip. Instead, Marissa spent time with S2S during Love Week. She was so moved by the ministry that when she was finally able to go to Nicaragua, she brought with her shoes, socks, dolls and hope through S2S’s innovative model of sending shoes with missionaries who are already scheduled to go to various locations. Marissa has seen firsthand S2S’s discipleship both in Charlotte and Nicaraguan communities, and she has seen proof that God’s timing is perfect.
God is using missions like S2S and Elevation to bring people to Christ through the help of dedicated volunteers. Please consider giving your time to helping during outreaches like Love Week or donating through S2S's website so that men, women, and children can receive the shoes that they need to cover their soles of their feet today and prayer that they need to cover their souls for the rest of eternity.
James 2:14-26 New International Version (NIV)
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.