LUKE 14:1, 7-14
AUGUST 28, 2016

Good morning.  From today’s gospel”: Jesus said to the one who invited him to the dine in his home, “when you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

God’s timing is interesting.  Over the years I’ve noticed how God’s timing works, and I recognize it today.

Today is Calvary Refuge Center Sunday at St. Augustine’s.  If you’re not familiar with Calvary Refuge, you should be.  It’s our local homeless shelter in Forest Park.  Calvary Refuge does tremendous ministry.  Today its executive-director is here with us.  I have invited Tawana Tarno to share with us the ministry of Calvary Refuge Center.  I’ve asked her to tell us how churches can participate in its ministry to homeless people. 

I’m wondering if God might be calling St. Augustine’s to become more involved with Calvary Refuge.  I’m hoping some of you will step forward and say you want to explore possibilities.  I hope you’ll be willing to offer yourself and your time.

Earlier I mentioned God’s timing.  When I invited Tawana last June it was just a matter of scheduling.  I had no idea what today’s gospel would be.  But here it is.  It’s about giving a banquet, not for your family or friends, but for those in need: the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.  Homeless people are poor. Some are crippled, lame, even blind.

When we help people in need, Luke tells us we’ll be blessed.  We’ll be “repaid at the resurrection.”

Tawana, I have a feeling that you’re being blessed already.  Am I right about that?  Come tell us about it.

[Ms. Tarno addressed the congregation]

Good morning, I am Tawana Tarno and on behalf of the board of directors and staff I thank you for allowing me to share with you today . I have served at Calvary for 28 years. The first 13 years we were all volunteers. I was among the first 5 hired at Calvary as the after school coordinator. I was part time at Calvary and also part time as youth minister at Second Baptist here on Morrow Rd.  Later I served as public relations director and I have served these past 11 years as Executive Director and feel it is and honor to serve the homeless.   

Calvary Refuge has been serving the homeless for 28 years. The first 13 years it was a winter-only shelter and I was one of the first 5 volunteers. We then purchased the property at our present location and have been a full time shelter year round for the past 15 years. We are located at 4265 Thurmond Road in Forest Park. We have 59 beds in the Emergency Shelter and 58 beds in the Transitional shelter. In November we will complete and additional 44 beds equaling 8 rooms and this building is being built by the city because of the closing of Ft. Gillem.  Homelessness has first rights when a base closes and so the building plans call for a 900,000 building and Calvary will pay only one dollar. This building will serve families with older males 11-17. This is the hardest age to place and many times the families are forced to sleep in their cars.  Calvary is the only shelter serving men, women, and children.  Last year we served 1,220 individuals. The emergency shelter is a 12 hour shelter and you can stay up to 21 nights at no charge providing you have picture ID.  Clients arrive at 6 pm daily and leave each morning at 6 am. Each night a different church, business, or organization provides dinner serving at 6:45. We appreciate your choosing to serve dinner and look forward to 2017 as I understand you plan to serve again. We miss The Braswell family as Morris served on the board at Calvary and I know you also miss having them here each week. 

The clients are served breakfast at 5 am and take a sack lunch to go. We also provide Marta passes Monday through Friday so the clients can seek employment, obtain needed records or medical help, attend meetings or seek housing. The transitional program is a longer program and within 4 to 5 months of entering the program the case manager works with the client to obtain permanent housing and full time employment. We seek volunteers to answer phones, work in flower beds, help with painting or maintaining the property inside and outside the buildings. Calvary is debt free however this year we have been challenged as one of the federal grants we had received for 18 years was not renewed. This was a loss of $207,199 and we are seeking individuals, churches and businesses to help Calvary continue to serve the homeless. Our youngest client this year was just born on Friday and will return to Calvary on Monday. We seek financial support, volunteers, but most of all we need your prayers. We are open 24 hours per day with only 12 paid staff members and normally 7-9 college interns who serve 150 hours but are not paid to serve. They are psychology majors and if you know of someone needing an internship please have them contact me.  Volunteers also serve answering phones both morning and evenings. If you sew or knit you might consider making warm items this winter. You might like to draw and if so you could decorate lunch bags or write notes to place in the lunches . We are in need of white towels and wash cloths year round . But the one thing we can all do is pray for Calvary. Pray for the board of directors, the staff, for the clients, but especially pray for the children. This week we have had 21 children and 18 adults. Again I count it an honor to serve at Calvary.  It is a heartbeat and I feel what God has called me to do is serve others. 


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