Thursday, December 09, 2010

Something Beautiful I saw today...
by Dennis Jaeger and Gaylee Garroutte
Being a part of Impact never ceases to amaze me.  Impact is a place where God uses any and everyone to be a blessing to others. A place where anyone can find a way to serve, and where God’s love is alive and well.  When you walk in on a Sunday morning, there is such a broad spectrum of people you might cross paths with; people who you can encourage and people who will encourage you.  Below are the words of Gaylee Garroutte after a Sunday morning at Impact.  Lord, teach me to be more like the little girl she describes!
“This morning when I was in church I saw the most beautiful thing.  There was the sweetest little blonde haired baby, she was cute as a button, and if I had to guess her age...  maybe 1 ½ or 2 years old.  This little girl amazed me.  She was sitting in the back row with her mother and behind them was a row of elderly people in wheel chairs.  This little girl left her mom and walked right over to one of the ladies in the wheelchairs and just smiled at her.  The smile that came over the older woman's face was priceless.  The little girl proceeded to put her hands on the woman’s legs and kind of mini hugged her.  The older woman was gleaming!  She lingered around and then looked over at the elderly woman in the wheelchair next to her and then went to her and just smiled so cute at this woman.  The older woman bent over, picked her up and sat her in her lap for a little bit.  The girl was completely happy, smiling and laughing, and the joy that it gave to this woman was amazing.  The little girl continued to go from wheelchair to wheelchair, smiling, laughing, and just loving on all these people I doubt she knew.  I was so impressed with how generous this little baby girl was with her love and the difference it made to the people who she was loving on.
She was such a lesson to me. She reminded me how powerful it can be to love another - just the simple gift of love and the impact that it can make on someone else. She wasn't selfish at all, she loved them all. Her tiny little arms had so much power when she hugged another. She was tiny, but her message was huge. Today, I choose to try and love others more like her. She was wonderful :)”

Thursday, October 21, 2010


     Impact has seen the loss of some special members and has had some seen volunteers come and go.  Although the makeup of our demographic is often very transient, there are many who have decided to make Impact their home, whether they must drive and hour to be with us, or have moved to our area just to be closer to the action and the family.  Impact attracts Christ-followers who are looking for more than a place to worship.  They are working for a way to serve in the body, as a body...as a servant-disciple. 
     I like how John Carson puts it in a letter he is generating to raise support to work as permanent Impact staff.  Here is an excerpt:

“Over the past month or so while fundraising, I've been asked this question in various forms.  I honestly don't believe I can describe in words what Impact is like.  To really know you would have to come see for yourself, but I'll attempt anyway.

     Impact is a place where the hungry are fed and the naked are clothed.  Our distribution center at Impact serves as a place where thousands of people can come and receive food and clothes.  David, who takes care of everything there, is a man who seeks to live out what Jesus said in Matthew 25, and push me to be the same way.

    
Impact is a place where the homeless can feel at home.  Everyday of the week, Impact's kitchen is open and many of our homeless, or outdoorsmen, as we call them, come and fed.  Along with food, they have the opportunity to shower and wash clothes.  They can also receive their mail at the church, and can get help in finding a job and a way off of the streets.

    
Impact is a place where people of all races and languages come to worship.  Any given Sunday you can people from all walks of life at Impact.  From doctors and lawyers to abused and neglected children, all come to worship the same God, and to share a meal together afterwards.

    
Impact is a place where the unloved are loved.  Whether it be a neglected child from a horrible situation, or a wheelchair bound elderly individual stuck in a nursing home, both are cared for and loved at Impact.  Many of our ministers go to assisted living and nursing homes every week, to seek out the forgotten children of God in these places.  Just as we as a youth team, seek to love our kids and help them grow as people, and equip them to love others as Jesus loved them.
  
    
Impact is a place that I have been called.  I've been called to work with the youth, specifically the high school, and to show them more about the reality and way of Christ.  Honestly, no matter how many cool trips, lessons, and small groups I do they probably will not grow and learn from what I do, nearly as much as I will grow and learn from being in their presence. “ -from http://followinghiscalltohouston.blogspot.com/

Both John Carson (above) and Tyler Gentry (right)   have worked with and are loved by the Impact family.  They are doing what they can to be able to live in the heart of Houston with us.  To learn more about either or both see John’s blog,  or Tyler’s video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9znRMORg3w.

Faith and Fear in the Big City

One of the greatest missions at Impact is the care and protection of our older members.  There is a constant action in the surrounding blocks away from the building where several of our aged members and distribution cetner clients live.  Others or our number are wheelchair bound, live miles away in assisted living projects and are at the mercy of transport vans and caretakers.  Perhaps there are those of who have heard their stories of pain, discomfort and fear for so long that we have become immune to the problems these loved face on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, it took at occurrence of tragic magnitude to bring us back to reality as one of our longtime members, Debbie Boudreaux, died in her room at a project in mid-September.  Other reports in this monthly newsletter have referred to Independence hall where several have taught weekly classes for years and where we have partnered with other churches in serving Thanksgiving meals for the entire complex and where several of our members live.  Debbie now has good health, a pain free body, and has peace at last living with the Father in Heaven.  Debbie's friends and loved ones at Impact hosted the memorial service at Independence Hall and lives were blessed in the process.

Impact has been able to respond spiritually and physically to these friends for some twenty years because of the previous financial support of other congregations and individuals.  For that we are thankful, but now, even more than ever, the plea for additional and continued support is of utmost importance.  May we ask that you consider this part of Impact's mission outreach as your own?  You will be blessed!
      -Jim Deloney



Celebrating a Sister: a Story of Lating Impact


Join me in congratulating Ashley Cooks for her graduation from Texas Southern University. Ashley has achieved a tremendous accomplishment being the first one in her family to go to and graduate from college, with help from the Brooks Scholarship Program. She has worked very hard and long hours in the Juvenile Justice Department while completing her degree in Marriage and Family.
It has been a great blessing watching Ashley grow up at Impact over the last twelve years. Ashley has served in many capacities, mostly helping with the youth program and working several summers as an intern.
Ashley is a great example of hard work and perseverance. She has brought joy and happiness to all who become acquainted.
Well done, Ashley!"

     We have recieved and installed our long-awaited freezer!  The freezer is 1760 square feet and is located beside the Distribution Center.  This allows us to eliminate 5 refrigerator/freezers from inside the building, freeing up some much-needed space in what is usually a very crowded building.  More importantly,  it will give us the opportunity to store food longer and serve more people in need.  Praise God as He continues to provide for us.

______________

   Put October 23rd
on your calendars! 
We will be having our Fall Block Party - food, clothes, and hot dogs for all.  We will have the Food Stamps and Medicaid people there too.  Remember that 55,000 people go hungry in Harris County every day.             
 
             -David Beegle

Thursday, September 09, 2010








Will You Stand?

Standing.  Those of us who are able do it hundreds of times a day.  When we were infants, it was new and exciting.  We would practice again and again.  Now it’s become a habit.  We sit and we stand without thinking - it’s no big deal.  For a while, it’s exciting again as we watch with bated breath our children and grandchildren explore with wonder what their bodies are able to do as they learn how to sit, stand, and walk.
There are children, however, who do not have parents to partake in the joy of learning these things with them.  There are children who grow up without any encouragement to explore the world around them, no congratulations when they learn something new, and who are viewed as more of a hassle than a gift.  When we encounter these children, once again we need to learn how to stand.
God stands on behalf of children who have been wronged by people who are supposed to love them no matter what.  We at Impact are thankful that one of the ways he does so is by allowing us to cross their paths.  The story of four brothers who showed up at Impact this last June are a perfect example.
With their father in jail, these four boys (ages 5-9) were already missing out on an important person in their life.  In the beginning of June, their mother brought them to Houston, dropped them off at grandma’s, and left without a word of when she would return for them.  The boys found themselves in a new city, with people they didn’t know, and not knowing whether they would ever see their mother again.
Their grandmother, an Impact member, signed them up for VBS.  They came to Impact scared of the unknown, rejected by their mother, but embraced by family desperate to show them love.  Over the next six weeks of VBS, they were smiled at, laughed with, hugged on, and loved more than they ever had been in their short lives.  They began the summer lonely, with big behavior problems, big eyes, and blank stares.  They ended the summer earning awards for exceptional behavior and service, with huge smiles, lots of giggles, and more friends than they’d ever had.  Above all, they learned through all those people that there is a God who will never leave them, never forsake them, who loves them so much that he gave up his only son so they could be with him, and will always stand on their behalf.  He will be there to rejoice with them when they learn something new, to cry with them when the world is unkind, and to encourage them towards a great and amazing life lived for him.
The mother of these four sweet boys has not returned.  No one knows where she is or if they will ever see her again.  The boys have found a new home, with people who love them and who are joyfully learning how to stand on their behalf.  Thank you for allowing God to use you to enable Impact to stand in the gap for those who are unable to stand alone!       
       -Dennis Jaeger
Impacting Our Health


Healthy Treasure, a Christian-Based bilingual health and wellness program. We will meet every Fridays beginning September 3, 2010 from 6pm-8pm. We just decided to make some changes due to concerns from current participants. We will have Bible Class for the first half hour, discuss nutrition and menu planning the second half hour and then we will focus on mental health dealing specifically with self-esteem (building) and motivation. We will add exercise at the beginning of the new year once we have helped the women understand the importance and benefits of exercise.        -Maria Arzu


A Second Opportunity


In February of this year we began a residential recovery program on our campus.  We began with six individuals.  Two completed the program and are now in After Care and housed on our campus.  Three who dropped out of the program are still utilizing our continuing services for the homeless.  Beginning Aug. 1, we added eight individuals to the program.  With the House Manager and an intern, we have ten in our small facility.
These men are older than the first group.  All express an intense desire to leave the life of addiction and grow closer to the Lord.  Of course you would say anything to get off the street and into housing and care.  But these men seem to be sincerely dedicated to recovery, but fearful about the whole process of recovery and becoming independent and self-supporting.  We will add a daily Twelve Step program that will be open to others interested in recovery.
We request your prayers for these men for the long process ahead of them.  We ask, also, that you pray for an opportunity to offer the same program to women in the near future.  That will mean acquiring more room for the men and having the women taking over the present facility.  We can do this…and we must. Please pray for them…and us as we plan for the future. 
-Doug Williams

In Feb. of 2009, several leaders of inner-city ministries across the nation met in St. Louis at Jim Harbin's request to feel the "state of the nation" in urban ministry within our brotherhood.  That was a great time of being together, again.  The Impact Church volunteered to host another conference in 2011.  We intend to keep that promise.  The dates are Feb. 25 and 26.
The theme will be (or something like this) "Impact at age 24: What we did right and what we did wrong."  We will overview our programs and offer time for question and answers.  Being onsite, you can visit each ministry and ministry leader(s).  We will also explore what happened to some of the ministries that have failed since 2005.  I hope you will plan now to attend and spread the word. -Doug Williams

There are  so many pictures and stories we didn’t get to share about what God did among  the young people at Impact, but know that  many lives were changed forever!

Learning a new language is much easier when a friend is there to help.  Daniel Arzu (above) helped his friend, Hector learn English just in time for his first taste of Texas schools.  (Below) Already back at SFA, Marilyn Flores made so many summer/lifetime buddies!




WANTED:
Bilingual Minister!  ..and a supporting congregation!

For 23 years a local congregation has supported our bi-lingual minister.  That began with Calvin Henry, to Ken Lewis to Steve Austin to Steven Wells who just left to do graduate work in St. Louis.  That congregation can no longer support this position.  Two candidates are scheduled to come seeking to fill that vacancy.  Both are fully aware of the financial shortfall we are experiencing.  Please pray that we can find suitable support to this very vital work.  Our rapidly growing Spanish-speaking outreach is one of our most important staff positions.
“How I Spent My Summer Internship...”
by Ezequiel Lopez

We have already reported on how 3 of Impact’s young men left to serve in other ministries for the summer.  Ezequiel Lopez was asked to report on his experiences:

“I was able to spend my summer in an urban area of Tulsa, Oklahoma working with Contact Church of Christ. While there I was able to work with youth, who lived in impoverished neighborhoods. I was able to go to camp with many of them at the beginning of the summer and get to know them by living, playing, and worshipping with them.  I also learned this summer that the best way to communicate with a teenager is by doing the things they like, which is play video-games. So we would do that with a couple of teens on Friday, just to hang out and relax.

Another thing that I was able to do and learn from this summer was Contact Bible Club (CBC), which is similar to Impact’s Vacation bible school. We would go every Tuesday and Thursday to one apartment complex and go knock on doors, find some kids and bring them to the Recreation Center. Inside they would have government snacks ready for them before we started. We would start by singing (led by me), Skits (led by Kayla Bilby and performed by our Contact youth kids), crafts (led by Kaytie Jo Stinson), then “Ticket Time” (led by me!)  This is the part where the kids are allowed to be as noisy and as crazy as they can be just for a piece of gum.

This summer has been, hands down, one of the best summer’s I have ever had. I was able to fellowship not only with the adults of the church, but also with the teens and the youth. Thanks to all of those who were able to make this summer possible, either financially or through prayer. I had a life-changing experience, thanks to God and to the support of many friends.”



Still dripping from her recent baptism, this TSU student, Ameena is not just pursuing higher education but her Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is just so much to celebrate!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Impact Distribution Center Makes the News
by Christine Haas / 11 News
khou.com
Posted on July 20, 2010 at 5:37 PM
The article and video begin like this:

HOUSTON -- “In a nameless two-story building, barely visible from the daily commute on I-10, Houstonians are making a difference in the lives of those in need.
The building houses donated food -- food that provides meals for hungry local families every day.
Anna Castro’s family of five is among those aided by the donations. Castro’s family gets their food in a 50-pound box – a month’s supply of groceries.
And they aren’t alone…..”

The Impact Distribution Center is participating in a program to provide families with children extra food during difficult times.  Close to a thousand have applied at Impact alone.  Until October, trucks will arrive at Impact three Fridays a month to serve a portion of applicants who will receive one 50-lb portion of foods one time each month.  To see the video go to:
http://www.khou.com/home/Houston-Food-Bank-helps-local-families-find-their-next-meals-98875079.html
Or, read the article entitled, “Houston Food Bank helps local families find their next meals.”




Michael Lemmons:  Showing God’s Unconditional Love
God has worked through us this summer at Impact. Here's the stories of six kids that God allowed us to help this summer. 

Last year, the bosses kicked me out of VBS. They told me I had an attitude problem, I didn’t listen, and fighting solved nothing. Tough love, I guess. I missed school supplies. It crushed my intern. She had a soft spot for me and loved me despite my bad behavior. I felt her love even through my anger. I came back this year with a reputation, but still I had a second chance, a fresh chance. Some special people showed me unconditional love this summer and the last. My education ministers hadn’t given up on me all year. I came without a record of wrongs. Two interns chased me around my group, despite having little idea what it meant to discipline. Two others gave me special attention on the route, even though I come from the loudest family of six known to man. I’ve replaced the death stare with my beaming pearly whites. Now, I know the meaning of no and a positive attitude, and I know unconditional love.
 
My name is Diamond, and I’m in green group.

My mother brought my brother and I to VBS. I appeared content and ready to have fun like all the other children. Yes, most kids entered a somewhat foreign atmosphere, but not completely, as did I. For see, unlike all the other children, I didn’t speak the language of the land. Having just immigrated a month before, I easily could have felt overwhelmingly anxious. I could have felt stupid or ridiculous. Others might have said we don’t have time. Instead, Impact showed me unconditional love. My interns fought over whose buddy I would be. One won and translated everything to me every chance he had. One made sure to teach me any English she could get me to remember. Even with her other responsibilities, my reading director became my teacher. Now, I’ll go to school and know so much. I don’t have to experience the anxiety of knowing nothing and feeling completely alone. I feel unconditionally loved.
My name is Hector, and I’m in yellow group.

I’m bigger than most people my age. Some might argue I’m a bully. I can’t say I’ve never been called that. I’m not always aware of my size, and it makes it difficult to make friends. I don’t always listen, but I always smile. I often got in trouble but never sent home. Impact didn’t call me a bully. They gave me a chance. They showed me the love of the Almighty. My interns paid me special attention. When one child complained about me, they reminded me to watch out for those smaller than me, but they did while holding my hand, showing me the way. Big buddies sang with me at talent show and showed me how special I could be. Interns recognized my sweet nature and worked to expand it. They didn’t write me off as a bully. No, they loved me unconditionally. My sweet nature has become my only nature. For lunch, I volunteered to pray the other day. I thanked God for the interns, the big buddies, and for Miss Michael because they take care of us. I prayed with the love of Jesus. I learned it from a few special people that loved me the same way.
My name is Nancy, and I’m in orange group.

I followed my brother to VBS. My mom signed me up. When you look at me, you might argue I’m younger than I say. When VBS began, I cried every day. I mumbled nervously, calling out for my mom, wanting so much to go home. I felt miserable in an unfamiliar place with loud people. My interns struggled with me, an infant among toddlers. The bosses nearly said enough, but instead they showed me unconditional love, the love of Jesus. They gave me another chance. Then, God used a few individuals. An intern introduced me to the wonder of field trips. One accepted every apology I was made to give, despite my continual disregard for her authority. Another laughed through my stories, even if they happened to be in another language than his own. My education minister showed me the magic of lunch dates. Now, I can’t stop smiling. Now, I tell my stories like a comedian, not mumble them like the godfather. I have a routine, and I know, even if I don’t understand it, I’m unconditionally loved.
My name is Ricardo, and I’m in red group.

Some might call me bad. Some might call me hyperactive. Some might call me crazy. Everyone expects so much of me, to focus, to sit, to stand, to participate, to focus, to read, to walk, to focus. They want me to obey the first time, but I’ve already got my eye on the poster hanging on the opposite wall, and my hand is ready to pounce. I don’t know why my body works this way. I can’t help it. I try so hard. I get frustrated with my behavior, and I throw my head in my arms. Still, I learn Impact loves me. My interns have to chase me everywhere. Yet, they love me. I stab one in the eye with a pencil, but she loves me. She chooses a special big buddy for me one week. He becomes my idol and gives me the best week of the summer. I survived VBS only with the grace of unconditional love. Whether or not some interns came close to losing their cool, they loved me with the love of Jesus, and nothing holds stronger than that.
My name is Edgar, and I’m in purple group.

I got lost in the crowd the first week of VBS, although they knew then I couldn’t read. They excitement of it all kept me from acting poorly. Yet, as the second week started, a new building we entered, and the newness seemed overwhelming. The unconditional love began. Everyone began to realize I didn’t behave like every other child. Several individuals realized I needed special attention. Still, they didn’t know what I had and didn’t understand the best way to treat me. One intern began to investigate while another wondered how to help me. Still another tried patiently over and over again to help me read. They learned my diagnosis, leaving a bad taste in their mouths. I didn’t understand why they cared so much, but I loved the individual attention. I didn’t get it much at home without the sting of negativity. While one intern was gone, my other became my rock. Countless times, she began calming me down in the hall. She missed me when I wasn’t there. My home life needed work, and Impact saw an opportunity. They sucked in my mom, and now I have a therapist to come to my home and my school. My mom is learning I need a routine and how to give me positive reinforcement. We both smile more, and she says nice things to me. She understands me more everyday. Impact showed my mother unconditional love, and now she’s learning how to provide it for me.
 
My name is Miguel, and I’m in blue group.
Matthew 25:34-40
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Middle School returns from Camp of the Hills tomorrow.  Look forward to posting pics.
Oklahoma churches swarmed our campus this week with one of the largest groups of workers to love on our kids and present a wonderful VBS along with our awesome staff!


As is our tradition, each year we pluck a group of our youngsters out of the concrete jungle and transport them to the mountains of Colorado to face the elements, discover new things about them selves, and experience the accomplishment of climbing a mountain.  We are proud of how they faced the challenge and excited for how that with be with them forever.

   

 

VBS!

JULY is SO BUSY!!

This week part of our High School group is in Colorado experiencing TREK!  Pray for their safety as they climb mountains, and pray for their hearts as they discover new things about themselves.  Pray for their Spirit as they see God’s wonders and Christ’s heart in their fellow hikers.

VBS is in its third week.  Each group that comes to visit us brings its own surge of energy and excitement.

Bible studies at Independence Hall, Liberty Island, and small groups in various homes and on campus continue to nourish our adults at Impact. 

We continue to serve out neighbors and those in need around us, feeding hundreds of families a week, harboring the homeless for moments during the week, and just being there for those who need someone in their life who cares.

Having celebrated Independence Day this past weekend, we are reminded of the great freedom we have to worship our Lord and serve Him as we do in this city and in this country.

Check out our July Newsletter by clicking the link below:


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Busy week!

Opportunity Camp blesses Impact youngsters!







Interns meet Impact elders.








Hispanic teens attend national youth event at Bammel Church of Christ.  Two of our teens decided to get baptized!


Truckloads of Gourmet Food provided groceries for hundreds of families.










Interns took the Urban Plunge to open their eyes to the homeless situation in Houston.







Much more goes on behind the scenes in preparation for VBS, etc.


Opportunity Camp Report!

Last week several of our youngest kids were taken to a special Gulf Coast Christian Camp in Columbus, Texas. Two churchs, one from Conroe and one from Canyon, Texas come out and put on a camp called Opportunity Camp! It is so named because of the opportunity that every camper has to receive tons of attention and guidance from their counselors and the staff.  “It is SO cool!” explains Suzy Gabriel who couldn’t stay away for a week.  “There are two teen buddies for every camper and you stay with your buddy 24/7! The kids are eating up all that individual attention! They don't want to go home!!”  This sentiment was reflected in the faces and body language of the children as they arrived back at the impact campus.  Suzy continues, “Lluvia told me the a lot of the kids were crying [that] morning, they didn't want it to be over. She said [a couple of campers] were bawling! I hate they were sad but, you know… that’s the little boy in them and they felt loved all week long! No garbage, no alcohol, no drugs, no yelling… just love! A little piece of heaven for them!!”  Thanks to the two churches who provided a wonderful week for these little ones from Impact.  They worked hard, played hard, but gently guided these little ones through an amazing adventure.  It was more than a camp.  It truly was “a little piece of heaven for them!!”

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Here is the JUNE edition of Impact News:
er:  
Summer is HERE!  Interns are here!  Students are out of school and here on campus!  Lots of things are happening!  Stay tuned for reports, but if you want more photos, updates, and ideas of activities, our Facebook page is one of the most active sites at the moment.  People are always posting photos and comments.  Check it out!  Most of all, keep praying for the work God is doing in downtown Houston through Impact.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Impact Loses a Beloved Family Member:  
Winston Bridges (1939-2010)

The following letter expresses the sentiments of so many here at Impact.  

"My Friend Winston"  -by Jenny Winter

There are people in our lives who make a difference and then there are people who change us forever.  Winston changed me forever.  Not in a grand and adventurous way but  in the simple ways that I watched Jesus working in Winston’s life.
When I first saw Winston he was eating with the outdoorsmen and listening to one of Les’s sermons.  He looked about the age of my Grandfather and I supposed he was one of the ministers at Impact  just helping out.  I was shocked to discover that Winston was an outdoorsman himself.  I couldn’t believe at his age he could survive without a roof over his head at night.  I was even more shocked to find out that he was without family.  He looked for them, but never found them.  No family…no home…How has he survived?  When I introduced myself to Winston he pulled on the corner of his baseball cap and shuffled his feet and told me how he was feeling and what was going on in the kitchen at Impact.  And so it was for ten years.  Almost every day I worked at Impact he would find me and say hi and pull on the corner of his baseball hat and shuffle his feet and tell me how he was feeling and what was going on in the kitchen at Impact.  Every once in a while I could get some stories out of him about his days working with horses in the circus and pranks he played as a child, but mostly our relationship consisted of our simple hellos and me watching and learning.
I watched him when we started working with Doug Williams in the kitchen at Impact.  He took ownership of his job and worked hard.  He was proud of himself and the people he worked with.  I went to visit him when he and Felton moved into their new home close to the church.  He was comfortable there.  He seemed content to share his new home with friends.  I listened to his stories of the holidays he spent at the Williams house or at Impact.  Of what Bethul cooked for him and what he did and what his roommates did.  He was happy over the holidays.  I watched him pass out Christmas, birthday, and thank-you cards to many people at Impact over the years.  They all contained just his simple signature and for all of us that was enough.  When babies were born he would buy them gifts.  He always gave the gifts secretively, but we knew who gave them to us.  For years I watched Winston be generous with his time, his money, and his love.  He had this unique ability to make everyone feel loved and important even when he was tired and sick.
When Winston started getting sick fairly regularly I would visit him in the hospital.  Sometimes I would ride with him in the ambulance and always the first question the staff would ask is, “Does this man have family?”  My answer was always, “No, he does not have any family that we know of.”  But something always bothered me about this answer.  Over the years I had watched Winston go from no family to a whole church that considers him his own, from no job to working regularly, from homeless to a house of his own.  So when Winston got really sick and went to the hospital for the last time the nurse looked at me and asked the same question, “Does this man have a family?”  And for the first time I answered that question truthfully, “Yes Ma’am.  This man has more family than most of us ever will.”  Impact is Winston’s family.  Winston is our family.  Winston is my family.
Winston taught me a lot of things in this life, but the most valuable lesson I learned from him is that when you fill your life with Jesus Christ it does not matter how much you have or don’t have.  God will give abundantly from His riches to provide for all of your needs.  Winston found family and home at Impact and the love Jesus put in his heart was shared with all of us.  I already can’t wait for the  day when Winston will pull on the corner of his baseball cap and shuffle his feet and tell me hi and how he is feeling and what is going on in the kitchen in Heaven.  I miss you already my friend…my family.”

 

The variety of people who came to Winston Bridges’ funeral is a testimony to how one humble life can have an impact on so many people.  Young, old, rich, poor, black, white, or brown; all were precious to him.