For the past 10 years, NightWatch volunteers have spent their Friday nights hitting the streets of Greensboro in search of the homeless. The volunteers come from church and civic groups and get together twice monthly. They gather in prayer and then take food, blankets, hygiene kits, Bibles, and the love of Jesus Christ to different areas of the city. Going in teams, they seek to visit the homeless wherever they are -- on the street, in the woods, under bridges.
NightWatch volunteer Darlene Jackson has been a part of this ministry of The Salvation Army of Greensboro for six years. As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we honor her devotion to serve the homeless. Darlene shares, in her own words, why she is so passionate about NightWatch and has a heart for those without a home:
NightWatch has opened my eyes and my heart to those who need it most. I know that at any time, any day, we all could face a situation that could make us homeless. God wants us to be His hands and feet. I cannot think of a better way to do that than to be out searching for those in need. The highlight of my night is praying with them and encouraging them.
These folks need to know that they are important, and that God will get them through their situation if only they believe and trust. I do not judge, because everyone has a story.
I remember one night we encountered a gentleman who was living in the woods, no tent for shelter. He told me that on the really cold nights, he climbs in a nearby dumpster and covers up with cardboard to stay warm. I asked him why he wasn’t afraid to be in a dumpster where there may be rats. His response was, “Ma’am, when you are cold you will do what you have to do to stay warm.”
The saddest part for me is when we have to leave these people where they are at the end of the night. So many times you just want to take them home with you, but I know that’s not realistic.
It’s truly amazing what some people have been through and how they ended up where we find them. We always tell them, they bless us much more than we bless them.
If you would like to learn more about The Salvation Army of Greensboro’s NightWatch ministry and its volunteer opportunities, click here.