I am a strong advocate of showers. Having played high school and college football, I can assure you that showers were as important to practice as wind sprints … especially in Greenville, NC, in August where sweat and grime had to be removed if you had any intention of being around other people.
When our Sunday School class (The Gathering Place) began to discuss the possibility of a Shower Ministry, I wanted to be a part of opening the gymnasium to the homeless. I could not imagine that there were people who were not able to bathe daily … much less weekly. Shows you how naive I was.
Once these friends began showing up and sharing their stories, I realized how important this ministry was to them and what a difference it made in their lives and in our lives. This became more than a ministry – it became relational. We were not only able to provide refreshing showers, but also clean undergarments, socks, refreshments and conversation. Friendships and connections were being made.
I learned that many of our guests had worked at companies that had relocated from the Greensboro area or had a reduction in their work force. Most wanted to better their situations, but were unable to find suitable employment. They shared about the difficulty of finding a job when you don’t have a permanent address.
Many Saturday afternoons I have watched people walk out our doors after showering … and while they seem physically and emotionally refreshed … there I am, spiritually refreshed!
We have seen success stories. Several of our regulars have gone through “Step Up Greensboro,” a non-profit program providing job readiness and life skills training for unemployed people who are striving to find jobs and achieve more stable lives. First Baptist Church is one of Step Up’s faith founding partners. Also, two Shower Ministry guests, Earl and Becky, are now engaged and getting married. Soon they will have housing and will not be in need of showers, but they have said they want to continue to come and volunteer on Saturdays! Once they were guests, now they have become friends!
I leave you with this thought from Rachel Naomi Remen:
Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life.
When you help, you see life as weak.
When you fix, you see life as broken.
When you serve, you see life as whole.
Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego,
And service the work of the soul!
– Corie McRae
The Shower Ministry of FBC operates on Saturdays from 3-5 pm in the Gym/Recreation Building. Volunteers are need from 2:30-5:30 to greet folks, watch personal belongings, and help facilitate getting folks in and out of the locker rooms/showers area. There is an online sign-up available to anyone interested in participating in the ministry – http://bit.ly/shower-ministry.