News

ALIVE 2014

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ALIVE is only one month away which means one thing - it's time to sign up! There is a lot to look forward to at ALIVE, and one of the things we look forward to the most is YOU! One of the best parts of our year is seeing familiar faces at ALIVE, and it's just an added joy when you bring family and friends for the first time too. ALIVE is more about the relationships we build than the clothes we give away or the food we serve, and we are so excited to share these relationships with so many people who love serving the poor.

This year ALIVE will be held on

Saturday, November 22nd, from 8:30AM to 3:00PM

. Like the last few years, we are asking that all volunteers sign up online. You must sign up online to secure a volunteer spot at ALIVE 2014, so don't wait!

This year there is an option to choose the station you would like to serve at when you sign up. This is not mandatory but you are encouraged to choose a station so that we can be even more effective at breaking into our groups the morning of ALIVE.

As always, ALIVE is not limited to November 22nd. You can get involved by starting a clothing collection, coming to the clothing sorting, and of course by starting to pray for ALIVE even now. If would like to know more about how to do these things, please let us know!

2014 Benefit Banquet Recap

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On Friday, May 30th, over 160 guests came to L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry’s 12th anniversary banquet at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory. The evening was celebrated with our silent auction, wonderful food, and a delightful mix of our ministry families, supporters, and homeless friends. The dinner featured inspiring testimonies, highlighted by Gregory Shields, a former graduate of our discipleship program, who shared about the hope that he has received and how his life is being transformed. Thanks to our dynamic MC, in less than two hours, guests were able to hear and see what God has been doing over the past 11 years and were encouraged to provide long-term support for the ministry. At the end of the event, the ministry was blessed to raise about $14,500, which will go far in helping us serve over half of Pittsburgh’s homeless population this year. Thanks goes out to all who participated in this year's events. Your donations and attendance was critical in making this event a success, and even more critical in the further transformation of Pittsburgh’s homeless men and women.

Below, you can check out all of our pictures from the event:

 

February Volunteer Recap

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To the pessimist, February might not have much going for it: lots of cold weather and barely enough days to make it a month, but at L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry this February was a time of great excitement and encouragement! In fact February was going so great, that the momentum kept things moving right on into March! Here is a look at what volunteers have been up to at L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry in the past few weeks. On February 16th, after a few month hiatus, the workday made its grand return to L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry! 10 volunteers joined us for a morning preparing for the annual Sleep Out by leveling out floorboards, removing nails, installing railings and new locks, and sweeping up the second L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry house. We were also blessed to be able to clean and organize the first house, also blessing our staff with an improved supply closet for the office. Thank you for all you did to prepare us for the Sleep Out!

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Many of us want to serve the homeless but on February 22nd we had the chance to gain some new insight into the life of the homeless: by sleeping a night outside! We played games, heard testimonies, and participated in classes that taught us about homelessness and then capped off the night by sleeping in the second L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry house (without heat, electricity, or plumbing!). In the morning we took what we'd learned and put it into action by serving the homeless in a number of ways around the city. Projects included serving breakfast at women's shelters, preparing lunch at a men's shelter, cleaning the home of the formerly homeless and street outreach. The Sleep Out was a night to challenge ourselves and surely we will never see homelessness the same way again!

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On Monday March 4th L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry held our 15th job fair for job seekers in the Pittsburgh area. With the help of many teachers, cooks, and resume-typers we were able to help 25 men and women looking for work to receive job training and meet potential employers. Only two weeks after the job fair already 5 people have found work! Praise the Lord for his great provision!

This March L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry had the opportunity to work with two spring break mission teams. March 4th to March 8th we welcomed FISH (Fellowship In Senior High) a youth group from State College, as they came to Pittsburgh for a week of service. FISH joined us at our job fair, served lunch at area shelters, painted more walls than we can count, sorted baby clothing for the Women's Choice Network, and much more! These 60 youth and their leaders spent a week living the life of a servant and their work made a real impact on Pittsburgh's Northside. Thank you FISH!

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The very next week, March 11th to 15th we were joined by Waynesburg University's Bonner Scholarship students to serve breakfast daily to men and women living under bridges and to the men at Pleasant Valley Shelter. These students met us every morning at 5 AM to prepare a hot breakfast which we then took to the streets as we shared not only food but a short Bible study to encourage the homeless as they set out for the day. A big thank you to the students from Waynesburg for their early morning service!

2013 Sleepout Recap

Sleeping in the cold

Shock, awe, frustration, inspiration, bitter cold, compassion. These were all feelings that people from our Sleepout came away on Friday and Saturday, February 22nd and 23rd. Between the relay races, impactful testimonies, informative seminars, rock hard sleeping surface, and inspiring service projects, each participant was challenged and encouraged to spend themselves in behalf of the poor. One woman noted that she felt ‘mad’ throughout the night because she could remember being homeless and what how hard that life was. She vowed to make positive choices so she would never have to live like that again. Others were shocked at how much the homeless have to wait, and really connected with the sense of purposelessness that many of the homeless feel every day. Check out the pictures below to see what you missed! [nggallery Id=33]

January Volunteer Recap

Serving at Wellspring

As a new year begins, most of us think of how to get off to a strong start. We may have goals for the year, or we may just be excited about the chance to start something fresh, but there is a great excitement about January and the beginning of a new year full of promise ahead of us. L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry is no different. While we desire to serve the homeless the best that we can all year round, there is still a thrill to beginning a new year and seeing what God will do. Certainly He blessed us with great volunteers who took off running in 2013! Here’s a look at our first three projects of the year.

January 12th – Painting and Fellowship

What do women love to do? Talk, eat, and help one another out! That is exactly what we had the opportunity to do when we were joined by a few members of ACAC’s high school girl’s Bible study. We took some brushes, paint, and yes…a few of the men from the office, and got our paint on at the home of our dear friend Kathy! After we got a fresh coat of paint on her walls, ceilings, and doorframes, we all came back to the Ministry house to share a meal and fellowship. What a great morning we had blessing Kathy with fresh paint and being blessed by her encouraging spirit!

January 17th – January Newsletter

Problem: 1,100 Newsletters need to be stuffed, sealed, labeled, and stamped. Solution: Doug, Marty, Nora, Jen, Jessica, and Katie.

Thanks to the help of friends, mailing hundreds of letters becomes a fun and quick project! In what felt more like a reunion after the holidays than a day of work, we were able to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and enjoy a delicious lunch before sending out the latest L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry happenings by mail to the over 1,100 people who receive our newsletter. Thank you for your help!

January Newsletter

January 21st – Games, Movies, and Lunch at Wellspring

For the second year in a row we were joined by a group of volunteers as we prepared a meal at Wellspring Drop In Center on Martin Luther King Jr Day.

As our kitchen team whipped up tacos, Spanish rice, and freshly baked cookies, other volunteers spent time in fellowship with the men and women spending the day at Wellspring. We had a movie marathon, played Uno, busted out the dominoes, and even got into a competitive bowling game on the Xbox. Sharing an afternoon together is a great reminder that at the heart of all we do, is the opportunity to build relationships with the poor and homeless. Thank you to all of our volunteers who joined us for a day of fun and games at Wellspring!

Fun at Wellspring

Ecclesiastes 7:8 reminds us that the end of a matter is better than the beginning. We are grateful for the start of this new year, and we look forward to what God will do if we continue to work with joy and enthusiasm - even after the shine of a new beginning fades away.

Will you join us this year as we serve the Lord by serving the homeless? There are so many ways to get involved: visit a shelter, teach a class at a job fair, or serve breakfast to the working poor, and the list goes on. Challenge yourself to serve in ways you haven’t before, or to return to a projected you’ve loved in the past. Invite an old friend, and make new ones. Get involved as we love and serve the poor.

If the start of this year is so good, surely the end has even greater things in store. Join us as we look forward to see what that even better end will be!

ALIVE 2012 Recap

ALIVE 2012

On Saturday, November 17th, L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry hosted its 10th annual festival for the homeless called ALIVE. This year's event was absolutely incredible. God blessed us with amazing weather, passionate bands, powerful proclamations of God's Truth and more! As usual, our volunteers were rock stars by helping make this event run as smoothly as possible. The food was delicious as always, and we had just the perfect amount of clothing. But the best part of the day was being able to celebrate the new life that Christ died to give us. No longer are we slaves to sin, but we are freed to a new life. Let there be no mistake, God was honored at ALIVE 2012!

Highlights from this year's event are as follows:

Over 225 volunteers, 350 homeless, 700 chicken pot pie lunches, 504 Eat N' Park cookies, 235 bags of warm winter clothes, free optical care and health screenings, free cell phones, a bid whist tournament and art competition, dozens of people prayed for and many making commitments to Christ!

Every year we always say that that year's event was the best, and 2012 was no exception. This was a great way to celebrate our 10th ALIVE!

Below you can view all 449 pictures taken at the event. Many of them depict the joy in everyone's faces as they serve together and enjoy God's gift of life. By faith, we believe that Jesus Christ died to give us a new life, and it was our privilege and blessing to share that with everyone who attended on Saturday. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, may the blessing of our life in Christ guide and sustain you!

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Jen's Farewell

Farewell To Jen

Jen Hong has served L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry faithfully for 3 years, but sadly, her last day with us was Friday, September 28th. Jen and Francis were blessed with a beautiful baby girl on Saturday, October 6th. Through much prayer, Jen has discerned from God that it is her time to step away from ministry to the homeless, and step into full-time ministry inside her own home. Here are her reflections on that transition. The Christian life is like a marathon. We are running this long race to receive a crown of life that is worth far more than living in a big house, having healthy and obedient kids and not worrying about money. The Apostle Paul said,

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

I praise God for giving me eternal life and am forever grateful that He has made L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry a milestone of my race.

Floods of memories filled my mind as I walked out of Miryam’s for the very last time. I remember just a few years ago when a homeless girlfriend introduced and accompanied me to this place. It was a bright sunny day, and excitement filled this woman as she shared about the food they served and how much she liked their free coffee and tea. At the time I was a brand new intern for the ministry who did not know anything about homelessness. My prayer was simply that God would guide and equip me to do His work. Amazingly, with no explanation, the homeless began openly sharing their stories and burdens with me. Years later, I still remember the smiles on their faces and the stories they shared with me. Throughout this journey, there have been times when the road was very difficult and loneliness hindered my ability to go any further. Being the only woman staff at the beginning of my career at the ministry was hard, and life seemed impossible with my visa and income issues. These were the times when I wanted to give up and told Jesus that I couldn’t do it. But the Lord reassured me with His promises, and I began to see His blessings flow down when I kept running. I couldn’t remember exactly where and how it started but God had amazingly opened the door. I was humbled. For the first time ever, a Christian ministry was able to openly share the Gospel in a particular women’s shelter. Not only that, God granted me my visa after months of waiting and provided financially for our family. 

The events of the past 3 years have flown by so fast that they have seemed like only a few days. While my Christian race continues, I know it is time for me to leave full-time ministry. One Monday night, Ashley, a quiet homeless mom, asked me after the Bible study, “Are you coming back next week? It is so good to hear about the Bible and I want to see you again.” Tears almost raced down my cheeks. I told her that I would not be there next week but maybe in the next few months and I assured her that Jenna would be there in my place. Honestly, I hate acknowledging that I’m leaving the ministry, and it is especially painful leaving the people and ministry I love. When I got home after visiting that shelter, I tried to trick myself into believing I would see that woman again while doing Bible study with my baby soundly asleep in the corner. But I know that I can’t run two paths at once. After months of prayer, all I know is to trust God and embrace the greater calling of being a mom. It is time to change my path from caring for the homeless to caring for a newborn. I am leaving the ministry to follow a different path and receive a different blessing from God.

If I can give thanks to my marathon teammates, I want to thank our Lord for bringing me to the ministry. I could not and would not do it without Him. The experiences and lessons learned at the ministry have greatly enriched and deepened my faith. I also want to thank Charles, Mike, and Mike for trusting and tolerating me. Without their patient teaching, I wouldn’t have been here at all. To Liz and Josh thanks goes out for their faithful support through the years in many different aspects. To Jenna, who traveled with me to almost all women outreaches, studies, and groups, I will always remember the days we drove together, our deep discussions, and the crazy adventures we had. Last but not least, thank you my supporters for partnering with me and the ministry for all these years. Your prayers and gifts are constant reminders of God’s faithfulness. I would encourage you to continue to give to the ministry, as my teammates carry on the work of loving and serving the homeless.

Are you running a race? If you are, I want you to remember you are not running alone. There are Christian brothers and sisters running with you. More so, God is waiting for us at the end of the race with His arms wide open. Sometimes I like to picture myself standing at a beautiful place, exhausted, but with a sense of accomplishment, and when I look up, I see Jesus smiling me at the finish line not far away. That will be the day when God wipes away all tears from our eyes, puts His hand on our shoulders and says, “You’ve come a long way. Come now and enjoy this feast with me.” This will be the day we will finally be united with Him in His love.

ALIVE 2012

November 17th 2012

It’s fall again, and as is our custom, we are preparing for our next ALIVE celebration. For the past 10 years we have been throwing the best party for the homeless Pittsburgh has ever seen! To make this year’s celebration the best ever, we will need your help. Last year we had 250 volunteers. Praise God! This year we will need even more to do this great work. If you like to pass out clothes, prepare food, play board games, sing worship, or pray with people, then we have a place for you! Unfortunately all volunteer spots for ALIVE 2012 have been filled! We are no longer accepting volunteers for this year's event, if you have any questions about volunteering at ALIVE 2012 contact Jenna Burdette. Thank you to everyone who has signed up, we'll see you at ALIVE on Saturday!

2012 Sleepout

On Friday, February 24th, L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry hosted its first ever Sleepout event. This purpose of this event was to education, raise awareness, and encourage participants to get involved in the fight against homelessness. From all accounts this first event was a huge success! 36 people joined us and slept out on one of the coldest nights last month. Most people slept in the abandoned building that we own, and were greeted with the chills of a cold, dark, and damp building. A few braved the elements and actually slept outside with the snow falling and wind whipping all night! Overall, the event was great.

The night started by people having to wait outside in the cold with all of their belongings while they waited for us to serve dinner. This is the same fate that the homeless have each and every night. In good fun, we played trivia with those outside awaiting their meal. Once inside, we fed everyone dinner through a soup line. Participants grabbed their bowl of soup and bagged lunch and sat in a cold metal chair to eat it. After lunch we played a few games to get people thinking about homelessness and their personal stereotypes. One game was for the participants to create the most clever sign from which they would panhandle. They were charged with using exactly 9 words.

After the games, two speakers came and shared their personal experiences with the group. One was Mac McMahon, the director of homeless services at Community Human Services Corp in Oakland. He shared a little about what he does, some statistics on homelessness in Pittsburgh, and a few stories of people he has helped in the past. Next was George Haley. George was formerly homeless, and shared a few of his experiences with the group.

After hearing the plight of the homeless, we turned to discussions on solutions. We deliberated over stories of people the ministry has served in the past, and then we planned our courses of action. These discussions were very beneficial to the participants as they were able to better understand how to best help and serve the homeless and what their true needs are.

The night ended with everyone building boxed houses to sleep in for the night. The next morning, we woke up, ate breakfast and then broke out to do service projects involving serving the homeless. Some moved a formerly homeless guy into his new apartment, some served breakfast to the homeless, and some helped restore the home of a woman who is very close to becoming homeless.

Overall, our first ever Sleepout was a great time for all! We all learned alot, got to experience first hand a little taste of what the homeless experience every day. This event was so transformative and impactful that most participants wanted us to do it more frequently (like once every month)!