A remarkable story is unfolding in Dayton, Ohio as a local pastor spends the month of January living homeless to raise awareness of deep needs present the local community, with special focus on foster youth. As noted in previous posts, the statistics facing foster youth that are emancipating from the foster system without having been adopted are crushing. Among many other dismal measures, it is estimated that more than half end up spending at least some stretches of their lives homeless.
Ryan Riddell, pastor of Shelter Church in Dayton decided last year that he wanted to engage this issue in a deep and personal way: by living a winter month on the streets of his home city. As he writes on his 30 Days Homeless website, his purpose is threefold:
1. Raise awareness by giving an inside vantage point of what it is like to live without a home.
2. Bring renewal to my own spiritual life, and to the lives of those who follow.
3. Raise support for New Family Tree Ministries who are providing and furnishing housing for kids who are “AGING OUT” of the system and have nowhere to call home.
New Family Tree began as the orphan ministry of Salem Church of God. As described on their website, “Through meeting with case workers within the county, speaking with foster youth advocates and also attending training at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in 2010, the answer became clear and distinct to develop a comprehensive subsidized housing and life skill training program.” They are now building a broad network of churches, businesses and individuals in the community to lead this vision forward together as the Body of Christ in Dayton.
This story—both of Ryan Riddell and the vision for New Family Tree—is only beginning. It’ll be thrilling to see all that lies ahead…