People in need find help through ministries of Jackson church

Saturday, September 8, 2001

JACKSON, Mo.

Pastor Joyce Hungate of the Revival Center doesn't like to take credit for the transformations she's seen in people's lives. It wouldn't be right, she insists, because God deserves all the credit.

"This is all God," she said, pointing to the facilities around her where men and women walked in hallways on their way to work or back to their rooms to clean.

The Revival Center in Jackson, Mo., offers ministries to meet almost every need. There are 43 private rooms to offer people temporary housing, clothing, a food bank and worship services.

Hungate's ministry and mission in life has been to live by faith and trust in God. When she began in ministry 22 years ago, God gave her a calling for people who were homeless or in need. She gave up her business and successful life as God prompted "so I could know what it was like to be homeless," Hungate said.

That experience has prompted her to build mission centers in nearly every city where she's lived, from Oregon to Nebraska. When she came to Cape Girardeau about eight years ago, she was surprised to find that the city didn't have any sort of housing assistance or shelter.

Now the Revival Center offers just that. In March, the church relocated to Jackson and opened a shelter for people in need of temporary housing. About 200 people have passed through the doors looking for a night's rest or a place to start rebuilding their lives.

And that's exactly the way it should be: The church takes care of others, Hungate said, citing Acts 2 in the Bible.

God has provided

The center operates with what it receives in donations and gifts. It receives no government funding or assistance.

Everything from the beds where people sleep to the kitchen stove has been donated by businesses or groups in the area. "God shows them what we need," Hungate said.

And just like God has provided what the center needs, he's also provided what its residents need.

That's exactly what happened to Paul, a 47-year-old recovering alcoholic. He showed up in a near-comatose state and has been sober ever since. Paul admits that he likely wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for the center.

"I would have been dead from the alcohol if it hadn't been for Sister Joyce" and her prayers, Paul said. "None of this happened overnight, but now that I'm here I can be witnessing to others who need to see hope and that you don't have to be destitute to a life of nothing."

Hungate and the center needed Paul almost as much as he needed them. A professional chef by trade, Paul immediately became part of the staff. He prepares three meals each day for about 30 people.

Most of the people who live at the center have just lost their direction in life and need help getting back on track, Hungate said.

When people come to the center, they aren't forced into religion but many are searching already. "They make a commitment and turn around," Hungate said. "They only way to change is to have Christ in your life."

Some people come on their way to a new city where they hope to find jobs. Some come to the center because they've run out of options -- and have no where else to turn.

"I don't know where I'd be without the center," said Danny, who tends the gardens and grounds at the center. "Probably in a ditch somewhere."

Many of the residents are referred by the Salvation Army, First Call for Help, Project HOPE and the Safe House for Women. Hungate expects to see more referrals as the economy slows and jobs are eliminated.

Many of the residents don't stay long, but just long enough to find a job and get a house. People who are accustomed to working often feel embarrassed when they have to ask for help, she said.

"We give them their dignity back."

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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