Remembering the Poor
Pastor goes homeless to raise awareness for city’s poor and Boxes of Love outreach
(ThriveBuffalo.Tumblr.com) For 18 consecutive years Pastor Eric Johns has faithfully spent the week of Thanksgiving on the streets with the homeless of Buffalo, New York, enduring the rain, shine, snow or otherwise.
Sleeping under bridges, eating at shelters, warming up at coffee shops and living outside in the elements and under the night sky, the pastor of the Buffalo Dream Center continues to follow God’s leading in helping the poor of our community and raising awareness of various needs in our community through this week long outreach.
The efforts have proved fruitful supporting hundreds of families at Christmastime each year through the accompanying donations and volunteers the outreach has built for specifically Boxes of Love. Boxes of Love is an outreach touching 3,000 families every Christmas with food and gifts for those who otherwise can’t afford it. Volunteers are again needed and necessary this year. Interested parties can sign up at the ministry website.
The outreach has become a signature fixture in our community highlighting the City of Good Neighbors that Buffalo claims to be. Every media outlet in town has covered the week on the streets that Johns explains came to him after praying about how he could raise the money and support for many underprivileged children and families each year. The idea to live with the homeless has propelled Boxes of Love into an outreach dozens of churches and ministries and thousands of volunteers have gotten behind bringing food and Christmas to hundreds of local families from multiple distribution points in Buffalo and into Niagara Falls.
“Every year I’ve done it I’ve spent a full five days on the street,” explained Johns. “This year I choose to sleep each night outside of our church on the front steps.”Johns said this year was special because of the one on one time he and his team spent with many of Buffalo’s poor and homeless.
“This year we had a lot of good one on one time with the homeless, praying for them, learning their names and hearing their stories,” said Johns.
Pastor Eric Johns has been able to inspire others to join him on the streets, out in the elements including his son-in-law and future son-in-law who joined him this year. John’s wife and three daughters also took to the streets this year and spent one night in a local women’s shelter.
“The ladies were able to stay in the shelter and also minister to the women on Wednesday night in the Chapel service at Cornerstone Manor,” Johns said.
On Friday about 15 young people joined Johns in the soup kitchen outreach, talking and praying for people which was particularly encouraging to Johns to see young people stepping out in ministry to Buffalo’s poor.
In a video announcement earlier this week Johns announced the opportunity for his ministry, the Buffalo Dream Center to purchase their own building for the first time in 20 years. The ministry was forced from their longtime home within the Buffalo Christian Center when it sold to Elliott Development in 2014. Now located in Buffalo’s West Side, the Buffalo Dream Center is looking at purchasing their ministry center at 286 Lafayette Avenue in Buffalo.
“We’re starting to talk to banks and taking some steps forward. We’re praying the community rallies around this and helps us let Buffalo know we’re here to stay by purchasing property on the West Side.”
The neighborhood outreach and move from the Christian Center has allowed the Dream Center to reach more families and attract more walk-ins to their ministry while still maintaining contact with many of the families they reached while at their previous location.
Johns said, “I’m believing God for a miracle here and that people will rally around this, we’re excited.”Pictured above: Eric Johns (left) with son-in-law Sky Shurr (right).