The room was filled with women in turquoise in honor of Rose. Her Evangel Home graduation brought together our residents, Rose’s friends and family, our staff, and our supporters. It was beautiful to hear people speak about Rose, where she has been, where she is going, and what she means to them.
The verse she chose was “… no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17.
Rose is currently in our Community Connection program with her two children, Quiston and Sequoia, where she is persevering every single day and growing into the woman of God that she is.
For those of us blessed to be part of Evangel Home there is nothing better than a graduation. Brittany, a beautiful young woman of God, graduated from the GARDEN. She is continuing in our Community Connection program.
Brittany quoted Leviticus 26:13, a Scripture verse that is particularly meaningful to her: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that YOU should not be slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.” It is our prayer that Brittany will never again be burdened and bent down by a heavy yoke of oppression, and that she realizes fully the truth of Matthew 11:28-30.
Brittany brings a smile and a servant’s heart to all that she does. She is a joy to be around and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for this focused and humble woman.
Crystal is supported in her journey by her family and her ADORABLE daughter Khloe, who you may recognize from some of our Day Care posts. Khloe also received her own diploma! Crystal is taking part in our Community Connection Program and will start classes for her LVN degree.
Her verse was “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23. Crystal and Khloe have brought much warmth and happiness to Evangel Home and we know that the Lord has Crystal in the palm of His hand!
I lived all of my young adult life, and a large part of my adult life, as an addict without direction or any sense of belonging. Prostitution was how I made a living (what I called a living at the time).
That lifestyle landed me in jail, and I was “sentenced” to Evangel Home’s GARDEN program. It ended up being the greatest thing that could have happened in my life. I came to the GARDEN in 2000. I came with all my secrets and garbage.
I received an education from the Home that is priceless. I was taught how to deal honestly with my issues as a whole and how to live life on better terms−dealing with both the good and bad. I received a solid foundation to stand upon and the tools to build on that foundation. I was firmly planted and rooted in love, something that I really knew very little about.
I graduated from the GARDEN and had just moved into the Community Connection (graduate) program when my foundation would be shaken. My son, Capers, was murdered in a random shooting in July 2001. I could literally feel my heart melt inside of me and fade away. At his bedside, on my knees, I begged God to give him another chance because I could not bear this pain.
Philippians 4:13 came running to the forefront of my mind right then and I thanked God for what he had done in my live. That verse is printed on Evangel Home graduation diplomas, and it says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
I soon realized that my son was given something greater than another chance in this life that day. He was at my graduation just a few weeks earlier and had even brought flowers with my younger son, Benjamin. He had been given the opportunity to see his mom living the right way before he died.
My life has most certainly been a constant change since the death of my son. I cannot tell you where I mighty be if I hadn’t been at Evangel Home when this tragedy happened.
Today I am a proud member of the Evangel Home staff (part-time) working side by side with those women who fed, encouraged and loved me where I was. I’ve been given an opportunity to give something back. Today I belong to the Evangel Home and I have a good sense of direction.
I am employed full-time with Watts, Campbell, Chi and Baker, and am forever grateful to them for taking a chance on me.
Evangel Home became part of the Fresno community in 1955. The ripples sent from this ministry have not only changed thousands of lives, but also affected generations. One such life is Elizabeth.
The scene is Christmas 1976. A mother and five children stand on the front porch. The only little girl in the group, 7-year old Elizabeth, peers into the windows. Inside the big house, a Christmas party is coming to an end. A staff member is handing out toys and hugging the children. Elizabeth’s family is not in time for the party, but the staff member spots them and later gives the little girl a doll, which becomes her treasured friend.
Twenty years go by and the little girl is now married with two little girls of her own. She is taking a class at California State University, Fresno and needs some volunteer hours to fulfill the requirements. She remembers the place where she spent Christmas so long ago and calls to ask if she can complete her class assignment there.
She came in for an interview and asked a question probably no other volunteer has ever asked. She said, “May I see bedroom No. 1? I used to live there.”
“You lived here,” the interviewer asked. “Yes. In this very room.”
A class assignment for this now-adult woman brought up a memory of the gift of a doll (which she named Crystal and still has) and a place that made her feel loved and secure as a child. What was to have been a 10-hour assignment led to 160 hours of volunteer service, then to a part-time position. Now she is a full-time house manager.
The little girl who once stood at the door and knocked, now stands on the inside to open that same door and welcome others to the safety and warmth she experienced in her time of trouble.
Elizabeth once said that when she sees little kids running around Evangel Home, she remembers when she did the same thing. She also remembers their concerns and says, “I know what it feels like to be homeless and so alone…to worry about where I’m going next and what’s going to become of me.”
“What’s going to become of me?” No child should ever have to worry about that.
Elizabeth found love and stability at Evangel Home and now she helps provide that to others. She still remembers learning Jesus Loves Me…a song she didn’t know until our staff taught it to her. Years later, she taught it to her own daughters.
Her life today lives out her message: “There are other Elizabeths out there, and you just don’t know what a toy or a song might do. You just don’t know what your actions do for someone else.”
We first met Anthi in 1990 when she frequented the alley in back of Evangel Home and went through the contents of our dumpster each morning. During that time of her life, she often slept in neighborhood dumpsters.
Change is seldom seen more dramatically than in Anthi’s life. She has gone from living in dumpsters to owning a home! Now rather than sleeping on church pews she takes her neighborhood children to church.
Here is a glimpse of her story in her own written words.
“Hi! Fresno’s ex bag lady here. Just stop for a minute and ask yourself, “If a person came to you smelling and lice falling off them. Would you hug them first or give them a bath???”
“If you said bath first, you’re wrong! That hug is so important. Let them know their loved and their not dogs without a owner. God hugs and loves every minute of every day. Unconditional…without baths etc. I’m not 98 pounds and smelly anymore. 140 pounds and looking good! And now I feel good about Anthi.”
“When out sleeping in the street it’s cold, wet and you’re hungry. Got off drugs and went to Evangel Home. Lived for 3 months there. 12 years later, I’m still coming back to the home to visit. They can’t get rid of me! Their the only family I know and I really don’t know any other lifestyle now, but the Evangel Home.”