Faith-Based Network holds prayer service for homeless
When two men were hit by vehicles within two days while walking to the Winter Shelter at Cornerstone Baptist Church, it rocked the community that cared for them.
The first was hit while walking with two other men, both of whom were shocked that he had run out in front of a car on Highway 97, a police affidavit said.
One of those men was Anthony Shadley, who was hit by a semitruck the next evening in nearly the same location and died.
"We've been with the people and helping them process their grief," said shelter manager Pat Abernathy, "… just being available emotionally to them and to each other."
She said one of the most difficult things about the accidents was that "we work so hard to create a safe environment" to keep homeless people from dying from hypothermia.
"We're just processing all of that," Abernathy said. "We're really holding our community very close."
She said volunteers, staff and the Jefferson County Faith-Based Network Board, which runs the shelter, "have all come to our aid, and it's really drawn us much closer. … It makes you realize what's important, and that's each other."
Abernathy had known Shadley for about nine years.
"He's always been such a gentleman. He's very kind. Although he has a family and a place he can be, he's chosen to spend time with us," she said. "We all love him and we all enjoy it when he does come to see us. He comes sometimes just to become part of the community."
Rick Russell, president of the Faith-Based Network and pastor of Madras Free Methodist Church, said what struck him was how the dangers of homelessness are not just the temperature.
To that end, the network held a prayer service Thursday, Jan. 23, for the shelter guests, staff, volunteers and a few others from several churches.
The candlelight gathering at Cornerstone Baptist Church was intentionally small, a time for the homeless to voice what they would like prayer for and to ask God for their safety.
"There's a whole community that loves you," Russell told them.
He prayed for comfort, especially for the guests of the shelter.
Abernathy was given welcome news when one of the congregation said that the man who was injured had had surgery on his leg and was recovering.
"I'm so happy," she said. "So, Lord, my first prayer is thank you."
People asked prayers for a home, for safety, for families.
Brigham Brown, pastor at Living Hope Christian Center, prayed that the community and traffic would be aware.
"You are close to the brokenhearted," he said. "… We love you, and we need your help."One woman, who said her name did not matter, asked for prayer that the people of Madras would not look down on the marginalized or those who are struggling.
"Because Jesus was a radical," she said, adding that he wouldn't be able to get into the U.S. today because he was brown and homeless.
Russell prayed for "softness toward everyone in this community," asking for people to understand differences of race, income and backgrounds.
"Shake this community to be a little more like heaven," he prayed.
Russell told those gathered that more people would have been there if they would have been told.
He said that while Madras is not perfect, "there's a heart of compassion in this community and love."
The congregation sang "Amazing Grace" together as George Klos played the guitar.
Russell concluded with a blessing: "Travel with us. Wherever we may sleep, Lord, we know you'll be right alongside us."
After the service, Abernathy said she sees a commitment from Madras that has grown deeper this year, with people calling to offer coats, socks, food and shower vouchers.
"Our community's changed so much because of the Faith-Based Network and most recently the shelter," she said.
"And what both of those things are is relationships," Russell added.
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