COLUMBUS, Ohio (Christian Examiner) – Bishop Jerry L. Pierce Sr. answered God's call to minister to the homeless by living among them in a tent outside for a month. He has not gone back to his house since moving outdoors on Sept. 25 and walks to a nearby McDonald's to use the restroom.
Pierce has befriended his new neighbors but worries about them with the onset of winter weather.
"I can go home," Pierce told the Columbus Dispatch. "These guys can't go home."
His tent is pitched in a cluster of trees by an on-ramp. It is the best dwelling in the little woods—others sleep under a tarp or the open sky. They dare not build fires and risk eviction.
Pierce's church, Miracle Cathedral, has pledged to raise funds for 400 men's coats, 100 women's coats, and 1,000 pairs of gloves and hats for the homeless. A coat could save a life, says the flier.
Pierce calls the awareness campaign "The Moses Movement."
A VIDEO UPDATE
In a video posted to the Miracle Cathedral Facebook page, Pierce gives an update on day 21 of his camp. To deliver his words of encouragement, he has to raise his voice above the sound of the highway behind him.
He relates a story of a young man whose camp is 40 feet from Pierce's. The young man had been camping there for about a year. When he complained of the cold, Pierce gave him his last three dollars to buy coffee to warm himself.
In the video, Pierce praises the Lord and asks for people to join him in prayer for the city for 10 minutes every day at 9 a.m. The church should be ready to minister to the needy, he says.
In 2009, Pierce promoted Homeless Awareness Month by living under a bridge for 30 days. He distributed food and Bibles to the people he met.
Before that, he was familiar with need. After getting in trouble as a teenager, he became addicted to heroin. He turned his life around after serving a prison sentence for forgery.
"I never thought I'd get off drugs, and I never thought I would be able to give back to society," Pierce told the local newspaper.
A CITY IN NEED
The pastor says the Moses Movement shows only a small part of the city's need. "This is happening all over Columbus," he said, watching a homeless man cross the busy highway to reach the camp.
The pastor's campsite has been visited by a Columbus council member, the local news, numerous fellow pastors, and supportive friends.
Daston Campbell, a deacon at Pierce's church, has lived outside with Pierce. Campbell has gone to work but not to his home. Pierce visited his church once, but otherwise has remained at his camp.
Tonya Keaton also visited Pierce, her friend, for encouragement and prayer. "What are you going to do when you're hungry, homeless and destitute?" she said, praising Pierce for his ministry to people overlooked by society.
"This is my love; this is my passion," Pierce said. "This is me being able to give back my life with everything I got."