This is a personal project. I created these photos because this is a place – these are people – that I care about… and I’m sharing because I want you to care about them too.
God’s Resort is a haven in downtown Joplin – an area that was previously known as “The Last Resort”- meaning if you can’t make it here, you’re destined for prison or homelessness. It was an area rife with drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and an place familiar to law enforcement, until the half block area was adopted by a group of caring people and a nonprofit was created. After spending time volunteering with the weekly meal and devotional offered in the Community Center at God’s Resort, I was shocked to discover not people who were beaten down or discouraged, but a group of courageous individuals who dreamed of a better life. A gathering of survivors who were bonding as neighbors and friends – who were helping one another. I found a community of hope… and my inspiration.
Chris & Shea and family were living in a park in Kansas City in a tent when a Christian woman cared enough to make a difference in their life.
In Shea’s words… “Living in the park was so rough. The thing that hurt the most was not being able to put my children in school because we didn’t have an address to use. At that time I just knew things was not getting any better and we didn’t have anyone to turn to. I got so depressed. I didn’t have faith anymore. I wanted to kill myself because I knew my family deserved more in life and I couldn’t give it to them.”
“One day this lady named Juliet came to the park praying for people and said that they were having a barbecue at this church and I said ‘I will show up’ and she said she loves me and I said ‘I love you too’. The next day we went there and she was happy to see us and we ate. There was gospel music and everyone was singing and dancing.”
After staying two days, Chris and Shea made the decision to have the pastor marry them. They were surrounded by many loving Christians. Juliet tried in vain to find a shelter that could take them all in, and ultimately gave them a temporary home with her. “I felt so blessed that we met her. We went to church and bible study. Then one day she said ‘I found you guys a place’ and I started crying and I hugged and kissed her and said ‘thank you’. We moved into God’s Resort and it’s been great ever since.
God’s Resort has given us so much hope and faith. They are so good to us and have been the best people in our life. I want to say ‘thank you’ to them for trusting us and giving us a chance to turn our life around.”
Chris & Shea are just one of the stories of hope at God’s Resort. These faces are just a few of the images from the upcoming gallery show we’ll be putting on at Spiva Center for the Arts in April. Every face has a story.
Stories of creativity.Stories of achievement.Stories of transformation. Stories of letting go… and of holding on. Stories of surprising talent
Stories of finding love…and finding home.
The theme – the anthem of this group is the Chris Tomlin song “Amazing Grace / My Chains are Gone”. If you’ve heard the song you’ll understand why.
It’s about being set free.
It’s about letting go.
“Faces Of Hope – The Inspiring People of God’s Resort” will be on display in the upstairs gallery at Spiva Center for the Arts April 5-29th. Our Opening Night reception will be Saturday, April 5th from 3-6pm. We’ll be joined during this time by the people who started and support this ministry, as well as many of the faces you see in these photos. I hope you’ll come. I know you’ll be inspired too.