We Can't Do This Without YOU! (+ 5 Myths of Homelessness)

These were Jesus’ instructions to His disciples: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Luke 10:2).

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In the past month The Gathering at Community First! has partnered with 3 churches, 2 small groups, and 1 local business. The vision of The Gathering is to empower the greater body into a lifestyle of serving alongside the homeless … human to human, heart to heart. Put simply: we invite volunteers and service-minded folks to participate in what we believe is “a mission trip in the backyard of Austin.” Volunteers are a vital lifeline to creating a Christ-centered mission at Community First! We cannot do this without YOU!

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The Gathering is ideal for individuals, families and also small or large groups. Click HERE to see the volunteer calendar. Thank you for your willingness to serve alongside our brothers and sisters in need. 


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5 Myths of Homelessness

Myth #1:  Homeless people should “just get a job.”

Fact: Getting a job is especially challenging for a homeless person who lacks clean clothes, access to a shower or bathroom, transportation, and a permanent address. Others have a criminal past, learning disabilities or lack of education.  Even if they find work, their low income often cannot sustain them.

 

Myth #2: People are homeless by choice.

Fact: No one sets out with a goal of becoming homeless. The single greatest cause of homelessness is the profound, catastrophic loss of family.  Poor choices can contribute to being homeless. However, circumstances such as job loss, mental illness, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol issues, and trauma often influence those choices.

 

Myth #3: Helping people enables them to stay homeless.

Fact: Food and shelter are essentials for life. By offering these and other outreach services like shower / bathroom and mail service, we build a human to human, heart to heart relationship with folks in need. Then we’re able to elevate the friendship and circle of care through a Christ-centered mission including recovery programs, counseling, life skills and job training. 

 

Myth #4: Sufficient affordable housing will end homelessness.

Fact: Housing will never solve homelessness, but community will. Providing housing helps folks who are stuck in the cycle of poverty, but many people may struggle to function within the rhythm of a “normal” life.  There are typically no simple “fix and repair” solutions.

 

Myth #5:  Homelessness will never end.

Fact: Many U.S. cities have established ambitious goals to end homelessness. While these efforts are important in reducing the scope and duration of homelessness, they will not completely eliminate it everywhere for all time. This is why the model of Community First! (CF!), and current expansion to Phase 2 at CF!, are crucial here in Austin and with other ministries seeking to replicate the heart and strategy of the ministry. Click HERE to learn more about what we believe is a transformative model of serving goodness to those suffering from homelessness.


PRAY

  • that volunteers would sign up and serve The Gathering… the harvest is great, but the workers are few (Luke 10:2)

  • The Gathering at Community First! would embrace the “slow work of God” to transform the lives of our homeless brothers and sisters            

  • God would multiply our efforts to make disciples who make disciples

  • for the Pastor Dude of The Gathering, Matt Freeman, and his wife, Chris, as they prepare their adult children for the future … Zach is his final year at Florida State University and Kai will be returning to her second year at Samford University … ask the Lord to give an abundance of grace and mercy

INVEST

The Gathering is a mission that is 100% donor-funded through generous, tax-deductible contributions. We have experienced a slight decrease in giving through the summer months and appreciate your investment and special gifts by clicking HERE.

The Gathering at Community First! Village

PO Box 6211

Austin, TX 78762

512-587-5640

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now on Instagram!

She Did Not Die Alone

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 

I Thessalonians 4:13-14

Kentucky born and bred. Lori was the middle child. Unconventional. A non-conformist. The daughter of a preacher. Her private school education carved the path to relative stability. Lori envisioned “a good life.”  Her Dad passed away before she graduated high school. The family regrouped and moved to Austin. Mom filled in the gaps to maintain family cohesion. When Lori’s Mom passed away in 2010, it sent her on an unfulfilling odyssey eventually leading to being on the streets of Austin.

The single greatest cause of homelessness is the profound catastrophic loss of family. Lori never dreamed of being of being without the safety and security of a home. That, however, became her reality. Alone. Drugs. Alcohol. The dire opposite of “a good life.” 

Lori’s move to Community First! was a lifeline. She had a place to call home. She joined the team at Genesis Gardens and rolled up her sleeves to work the garden and care for the goats. She loved pets. Lori was surrounded by new friends who loved her with a “no matter what” kind of love.

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Lori rediscovered a sense of purpose and began putting the pieces together to experience healing. We strongly believe that housing will never solve the problem of homelessness, but community will. And Lori found community. It was her anchor to hang onto. Dearly loved. Fully known.   

Lori passed away April 2, 2019. She did not die alone. A diverse cross section of neighbors, friends and loved ones encircled the columbarium at Community First! to tell stories and share the hope of Jesus. Lori’s memorial service accentuated the very best elements of Community First! Togetherness, tied to the sweet gift of redemption.

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The mission of The Gathering is to help imperfect people find and follow Jesus. Thank you for your investment and support that fuels our mission so that we can reach more folks like Lori. 

From Prison to Purpose

Christ died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ … This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17)


The Gathering’s annual Easter sunrise service at the Community Cinema outdoor amphitheater draws folks from a wide array of backgrounds. It is an ideal venue to proclaim the greatness of Christ in a non-threatening environment. The main message of the service: “God is NOT asking you to turn over a new leaf.  He is inviting you to receive a new life.” 

Photo credit: Licarione Photography

Photo credit: Licarione Photography

Worship was led by the Pure Goodness Band and the Good News Choir -- both comprised of neighbors from CF! The celebration reinforces the vision of The Gathering:  to empower the greater body into a lifestyle of following Christ alongside the homeless. 

Photo credit: Licarione Photography

Photo credit: Licarione Photography

One of the highlights of the Easter sunrise was the testimony and baptism of Johnny.  His life before trusting Christ was marked by being raised in a home void of the presence of a father.  Johnny made good choices growing up and attended church regularly.  As he got older, he drifted from his Christian roots.  He got married and landed a job as a police officer.  Johnny started experimenting with drugs and in his words, “I misused my authority as a police officer and got caught up in being a ‘bad cop.’”  This led to divorce, prison time and the sobering realization that his greatest hope for forgiveness and restoration was reconnecting with a simple faith in Jesus. The loud response from his neighbors, friends and supporters at CF! was an tangible affirmation that God is NOT asking you to turn over a new leaf. He is inviting you to receive a new life.  

 

Photo credit: Licarione Photography

Photo credit: Licarione Photography

“I love the people of The Gathering and appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement to create a Christ-centered mission at CF!,” Johnny shared.  “You are making a difference and are a part of my new life story.” 

Thank you for fueling our mission to help imperfect people (like Johnny) find and follow Christ.


PRAY 

Please pray …

  • that God would keep us focused on the simple power of the Gospel of Christ to change lives

  • for more volunteers to sign up and serve The Gathering… our mission is ideal for both small and large groups that desire to be a blessing to folks in need … sign up to serve by clicking on our volunteer calendar HERE.

  • God would multiply our small groups that meet throughout the week at CF! We trust the Lord to raise up more leaders who are committed to making progress in their faith journey

 

INVEST

The Gathering is a mission that is 100% donor-funded through generous, tax-deductible contributions. We anticipate a decrease in giving through the summer months and appreciate your special gifts and investments by clicking HERE.

 

The Gathering
PO Box 6211, Austin, TX 78762
(512) 587-5640

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!