International ministry provides resources and hope to homeless
Travis Sharpe has a heart for helping the poor and homeless on a local and global level.
Sharpe, who has worked with the homeless for more than 20 years, founded the Garden City Rescue Mission in Augusta, Ga. with the support of Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta. However, he felt called to resign in 2009 to focus on the rising homeless population around the world. This led him to launch Unsheltered International in January 2011.
He visited Bethany Baptist Church in Barnwell on Dec. 27 to discuss the work Unsheltered International is doing in America as well as internationally.
Ministering to the homeless hasn’t always been Sharpe’s goal. However, this changed in 1996 when he met a homeless person for the first time while he was a young Bible College student.
“I began to minister to the homeless after that first meeting and I have never looked back. I absolutely love the calling that God has placed on my life,” he said.
His ministry has always been guided by Proverbs 28:27, which states: “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”
Unsheltered International started in Alabama as a ministry to help churches that wanted to start a homeless ministry but didn’t know how. They also host resource clinics by partnering with churches in a community for a big weekend event that brings in resources for the homeless, including barbers, clothes, doctors, and Lions Club.
“We want to help them have a hand up,” he said.
Sharpe got an invitation to participate in a disaster relief mission trip to the Philippines in January 2014 to help after a typhoon. It opened the door to start a full-time ministry in that country.
He returned home to Alabama and, in 2015, he and his family packed their bags and headed back to the Philippines. They now split their time between the two places.
In the Philippines the 501c3 organization provides several services, including a Meal Center Ministry. Each of the 16 centers serves nutritious meals to children in poor villages, but also includes Bible lessons, fun songs, first aid care, and ministering to the families. A sponsorship program has been created to provide financial support for this ministry. It costs $200 to sponsor one center for a month.
They also have a street outreach ministry that reaches out to the homeless, particularly children and families who are sleeping on the streets. Sharpe said there are many children who live this way, including a six-day-old infant and his mother. The ministry team visits weekly to provide food and loving care, but try to reunite children with their families and find ways to help.
Last year Unsheltered International opened a rescue center in Talisay City. It provides a base of operations for the street outreach ministry and storage for supplies to give to the homeless. The center is open every Friday to provide meals, showers, Bible study, counseling and supplies.
Unsheltered International also “plants” an average of two new churches every year. Each church is born through a new meal center.
“One of the biggest things God seems to do is open people’s eyes,” said Sharpe of people understanding the need and realizing those who are homeless are just normal people. “Through our compassion to people we see God open eyes.”
The ministry is always looking for volunteers, donations, prayer and support, including corporate sponsors for the rescue center. They also welcome people to join them on their annual international mission trip in September.
Learn more about Unsheltered International at www.unsheltered.org. Donations can be mailed to Unsheltered International, P.O. Box 2625, Cullman, AL 35056 but can also be made online.