This is a bit different for me, but for this post I want to invite you to participate/support an urban ministry in Pittsburgh, PA. Fr. Justin Helton, an old friend of mine with whom I worked a summer at an Episcopal church camp a decade ago is now a priest in the Anglican Church of North America and is serving as an urban missioner in Pittsburgh. With his permission I am sharing his outreach letter to you all.
It is with great excitement that I am writing to you to share what God has been doing in the lives of our family! You may know that I have recently finished seminary at Trinity School for Ministry by completing my Master of Divinity degree and have been ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Church in North America. God richly blessed us during our time in seminary by growing our family (we were delighted to have three children while there), by enriching our faith, and by forming a deep desire in our hearts to serve His people, especially the poor.
One specific thing God did in seminary was to place a call on our hearts to get involved with Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, a church for the homeless and the urban poor in Pittsburgh, PA. During an internship God made it clear to us that our calling to Shepherd’s Heart was to go beyond our time at seminary by becoming urban missionaries. God also affirmed our calling to the head pastor at Shepherd’s Heart, the Rev. Mike Wurschmidt, and so I have already begun serving as assistant pastor as of June.
Throughout Scripture God makes it clear that He loves the poor and that He desires for His people to care for those on the fringes of society. At Shepherd’s Heart our passion is to reach the lost and to bring hope to the hopeless through making God’s love known in Word and action. This is why worship is an integral part of all that we do, because while feeding the hungry is a very important part of our ministry, we also acknowledge that it is only through Jesus, the Bread of Life, that we can truly live. Since life and time are precious and fragile for those on the streets, we seek to make sure the Gospel is presented at every opportunity.
In light of these realities, my ministry at Shepherd’s Heart primarily consists of leading worship, preaching, teaching, and discipling. Already we are seeing God use us to show love to His children through our ministry. One example of this was when I was able to pray with a young mother, who due to her struggles with addiction had lost custody of her child, to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior. Since then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, she has begun to free herself from addiction and to seek help so that she may regain custody of her daughter. I have also begun building relationships with the fifteen homeless veterans who live in our VA transitional housing program and plan to start a Bible study with them.
In order for me to serve the poor on a full time basis I need to raise a support base. Our needs as a family are twofold. The first and most important is that we need a community of believers who are committed to partnering with us in bringing God’s love to the homeless and the poor through their prayers. Secondly, we need people who are able to support us financially so that we can be free to minister to those who have nothing. Through your gifts those who have nothing will see the love of Jesus.
Isaiah 58:10 says, “if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” In response to this, I invite you to pray and consider how God might be calling you to join with us in caring for the homeless and the poor. If you would like to partner with us in serving the needy through your prayers, financial gifts, or both, then please return the enclosed commitment card.
I look forward to working with you as we seek to bring light into the darkness and to give hope to the hopeless. All glory be to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine!
If you, my readers, would like to support this mission please visit the Shepherd’s Heart website or you can email Fr. Justin directly at email@example.com. If nothing else, please pray for him, his family, and Shepherd’s Heart, but I’m sure he’d also like to hear from you.