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DOWN Ministry helps homeless, needy families

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  
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By Jeremy Schofield

Memorial Road Church of Christ member, Justin Taylor, started a community outreach ministry while attending Oklahoma Christian University in 2005. It is referred to as the DOWN (Downtown in Oklahoma City Where Jesus is Needed) Ministry.

“I started this ministry when I met a homeless man in Bricktown,” Taylor said. “He asked [me] for money, but I decided to buy him some food instead. I talked to him and found out he was a Christian.”

Taylor continued speaking with the man and learned both of their mothers died of cancer the previous May.

Inspired by the experience, Taylor went to his campus minister and shared his desire to feed and reach out to the homeless.

The DOWN Ministry takes place every month and takes anywhere from two to three hours, depending on the number of homeless people reached.

Participants in the DOWN Ministry take about 75 sack lunches to the homeless in Oklahoma City.

Participants gather near the downtown City Rescue Mission and split into groups to venture out into the downtown area.

“Many people won’t go to homeless shelters because, just like freshmen, they don’t like to have a curfew,” Justin’s wife Sara said. “Many of them are proud and don’t want to go find help, so we bring help to them.”

Sara is thoroughly involved with the DOWN ministry.

She chose to get involved because she was homeless during a portion of her childhood.

Her father lost his job and their family spent six months living out of their car.

“It takes a long time to go through the government to get housing and things,” Sara said. “We had no family to stay with, and we weren’t involved in church.”

She is able to sympathize with the homeless community and can relate to them because of her past.
“It’s incredible the stories you will hear from some of them if you just listen,” Sara said. “The people with whole families that are homeless are what get to me the most.”

People attending the DOWN Ministry for the first time are often shocked by the experience.

“To first timers this is a large eye opener to real life homelessness. It’s not just the bums you see on TV,” Justin said.

Homelessness is a real issue that many states try to cover up.

In some states the local government will pay for a bus ticket just to get them out of their state.

“You should step out of your comfort zone and give some encouragement to those who have no hope,” Justin said. “We are all God’s people. They are people just like you and me. Wouldn’t you want the same help if you were in their position?”

For more information on how to get involved in the DOWN ministry, contact Justin Taylor at justin.taylor@student.oc.edu.


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