Isaiah 61 Ministries is a 501c3 charitable organization. Our volunteers are Christians from various denominations striving to show those less fortunate that they are loved and not forgotten. Our ministry does not just serve food and give out clothing. We are a social ministry and those on the streets are our family. We are ordinary people God is using to do extraordinary things in the Harrisburg Pennsylvania area. We are an outreach to the homeless, tireless advocates for their well being and friends to all we serve. We are Isaiah 61 Ministries, God’s Hands and feet in the Harrisburg PA area.
In 2007, April Ocasio was leading a Celebrate Recovery group at Swatara Church of God in Harrisburg, PA when several members suggested doing a community service project of feeding our homeless community. Many of the homeless were living underneath the Mulberry Street bridge in Harrisburg which is where the group started delivering bagged lunches.
After this first experience April was compelled to continue serving the homeless, so she began taking out a small crock-pot of soup each week along with bagged lunches. During the 1st month the group missed a week of service to the homeless and were told when they came back the following week by a homeless person “I thought you guys were just another group of Christians who came out to feel good about yourselves and never come back”. It was a real eye opener to know that those less fortunate saw Christians as seeking to feel good about themselves. This realization confirmed to April that this was something she could not stop doing.
It became a weekly mission for her and her children. Shortly after beginning, Angel Ocasio became involved with running the men’s portion of the Celebrate Recovery group along with the weekly service and fellowship with the homeless community. Their union together led to serving at other locations in Harrisburg which included the Front Street Penn Dot Camp, behind the Courthouse in Harrisburg, an abandoned church off of State St. and Mulberry St bridge.
The way that God has moved in this ministry since Angel & April were married in 2009 has been no less than amazing. God has used both of their gifts to grow this ministry from just a food service ministry to one in which clothing, shoes, prescribed medications, toiletries, furniture, transportation, advocacy when needed, spiritual support and guidance, and referral to other needed services are provided. What started as serving only a few now amounts to over 140 served on Wednesday evenings during the summer months. With the addition of Tuesday meals this number has doubled and many more are being served.
We have partnered with Exponentialchurch.tv to start life groups where individuals who attend will be able to become part of a group where they learn to do life more deeply with one another. We believe that these groups will help the individuals who attend learn to apply biblical principals to daily life and will effect change in the homeless community. We believe that the people we serve have great potential and can help change their community..
Until April 2010, this family’s mission was something done out of their own meager resources with the help of a few friends. With Gods help and some publicity from the Patriot News in an article entitled “Friends to the Homeless” inspired and written by Joe Somebody, the ministry has gained some support but is still in need of much. Please, consider giving of your time or resources. Most importantly, please keep our ministry and our family on the streets in your prayers.
As we look forward to the future of Isaiah 61 Ministries we believe God has given us a great vision. We believe that our God is an awesome God and that He can provide for every need. We believe that Christ is the foundation of this ministry and that the relationships built here should be strong and full of love and compassion.
There are so many areas of service that the homeless community of Harrisburg are in need of and our desire is to be able to help fill in the gaps. Some of the needs that most of us take for granted like showers, access to restrooms, laundry facilities and even just a place to store personal belongings for the day are greatly needed at this time. .
Our long term goal for the ministry is to be able to have a facility in Harrisburg where no one in need of help would be turned away. A place for shelter, to have access to laundry and shower facilities, have a good hot meal daily, to have people from the local community come in and teach trades, to help those who need to get GED’s or further their education. A place to conduct job searches and much more would also be available. We also would like to be able to have a mentor program for interested individuals we are serving. This would be a safe place where all who enter will feel and see Christ’s love for them. We believe that through new opportunities being offered, encouragement and love being shared, and by sharing the hope that we ourselves have found in Christ many lives will be changed.
We pray that God will open the door for us to make many new friendships with individuals, churches and businesses who have a desire to serve and support those less fortunate. We believe that we are all called to reach out to the hurting in our communities and that as we continue to work alongside each other we can be more effective.
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