20 October 2009

Rescue Atlanta: Church for the Homeless

Some churches have a homeless ministry. Rescue Atlanta is a church dedicated to the needs of its mostly homeless congregation.

Pastor Mel and his wife Teresa Rolls started Rescue Atlanta in 1989, and their children—Kristina, Katie, and Ryan—Katie’s husband, Patrick, are all on staff at the ministry.

Jerome has been coming by for the past two months to take advantage of the relatively safe place to do laundry, shower, and sometimes call his brother in Washington state.

George beams when you walk by and talk to him. He described the shame of homelessness and said, “If I ever figure out how to forgive myself, I believe I could move on.”

Even though he said he attends a different church on Sunday, James helps set up the auditorium for Sunday morning breakfast as his way of giving back.

Staff member Grant Price is originally from Michigan, but a vision he received and a series of circumstances led him to join the team at Rescue Atlanta, heading up Broken Pieces, the Tuesday evening meal program.

The removal of the housing project across Englewood street means the kids who attend Royal Rangers and missionettes on Sunday morning are also almost all bussed in.

Rolls describes himself as a Pentecostal, which he says is a Protestant with oomph, and he has a talent for rhyming one or two-lines to make his point.

Rescue Atlanta receives donations from blankets to toilet paper, and clothing. But Rolls and his team don’t go around asking for donations. They want folks to come, “Hear their cries and see the flies.”

Rolls remembers a homeless man named David he used to pick up every week for church. David was a character. Pastor Mel once found him standing in the parking lot…naked. And every Sunday when Rolls dropped him off after church, David would get off the buss and cuss out Pastor Mel.
Rolls always reminded David that God and Pastor Mel love him.

Years later, a transformed David came back and thanked Rolls. “It finally all made sense,” David said.

When asked if it would have been worth it if David hadn’t come back, Rolls said, “Well, you know what...I think it is.”

Visit the Rescue Atlanta website.

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