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Help for the Homeless in Harrisburg Pennsylvania comes in many forms, from many people.

Isaiah 61 Ministries has dedicated themselves to this calling from God and they work with the homeless every day of the week.

A couple of years ago my wife told me about April Ocasio, a woman who she had heard about who has made incredible sacrifices in her own life to help people less fortunate. My wife had heard about April from a friend at our church so we decided to to do what we could to help. We volunteered to serve on a few dinner missions at the Swatara Church of God where April and her husband Angel coordinate some incredible events for people in need.

Help for the Homeless in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

What we experienced there was a profound and overwhelming realization that no matter how bad things seemed to be in our lives, we weren’t living on the streets. The other amazing thing was how grateful these people were for what they did have and how so many of them had such great attitudes of gratitude! Many of them praised God for all of their blessings. Most of us might look at them and not be able to see very many blessings, but these people are alive, breathing, have clothes on their backs and food in their stomachs. It doesn’t matter that they are heading back to living in a box, a makeshift tent, an abandoned building or worse yet, the cold concrete in a doorway or under a bridge.

These people appreciate what they have and realize that in many places in the world, people have it far worse. Lesson number 1; praise God in all your circumstances, not matter how good or bad they may seem to be.

You Could be One of the Homeless in Harrisburg

My wife and I continued to help when we could. I was working a job that had me traveling all the time so I wasn’t in town often enough to help each week and we live nearly 60 miles from Harrisburg. Things can change in the blink of an eye and on Oct. 28, 2011 I was let go from my job. It didn’t matter that I had been the top producer in sales for my company overall for the last 4 years, politics and tough times left me without a job. I almost instantly thought about the homeless people that I had met through Isaiah 61 Ministries and I thanked God for my blessings.

Not having an income is tough, but at least for now I have a roof over my head and much to be grateful for. The good news was that I now had time to help Isaiah 61 Ministries a little more, the bad news was that gas prices continue to rise and we are still 60 miles away. We now had the opportunity to serve on Tuesday and Wednesday nights when Isaiah 61 Ministries serves a hot meal and beverages to the homeless behind the courthouse and the Citizens Bank in Harrisburg. The Ocasio’s van rolls up at the scheduled time, they pull out 3 long tables and set up the food and drinks. All of the meals are graciously served to anyone who shows up and the numbers of people can be staggering. One night we had about 70 people and even Angel was surprised. He said that the shelters would close at the end of March and the numbers of people would climb to around 150 but to have 70 when the shelters were still open was a surprise.

The Love of Jesus Shines on the Homeless in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

The Ocasio’s prepare the majority of the food each week in their home which is about 40 miles away in Halifax. Sometimes other people will help and bring food, but the majority of the time the entire Ocasio family contributes, all the way down to the last child. When the van rolls up, the Ocasio children hop out and start setting up the tables or interact with the homeless. I’ve seen the children run up and shake hands, give hugs and even pray with these people. They treat the homeless like family, they let them know that they are loved No matter what their circumstances. This is the love of Jesus shining through these children.

After everyone is served, the Ocasio’s pack up and then head for a much darker area of town… under a bridge, where a small community of homeless people are living in makeshift tents, abandoned buildings and wooden boxes. We saw a mattress tucked up under a bridge abutment and a man curled up trying to stay warm on this 28 degree night. Another couple of men were burning old wooden pallets to try to stay warm before they had to crawl into a dirty tent made of old tarpaulin and plastic sheets and sleep on mattresses discarded for the trash. The nicest of all the homes was a box, made of plywood sheets, it had foam insulation and even a door with a lock on it.

The Ocasio’s served food to those under the bridge and they prayed with them. They fill their needs for clothing and medicine if they have a valid prescription. The Ocasio’s and Isaiah 61 Ministries are without a doubt, the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, working with the less fortunate in the Harrisburg metro area. If you have it in your heart to help this ministry either with your service or a donation of food, clothing, furniture, toiletries or money, I can vouch for the fact that every last bit will be going to an incredible cause.

I pray that God blesses this ministry, help for the homeless in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and the people who have dedicated their lives to it, may they find abundance through the hearts and giving of others.

Written by: David Englert

 

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