Inner City Ministries
P.O. Box 2627, Long Beach, CA 90801,
Fred Newkirk Pastor-Director 562-818-2037,
Friends of ICM,
Two mothers, homeless but with temporary day-to-day shelter and nine children, standing, waiting their opportunity to chat with the Preacherman. Today all they need is bus fare to get to an agency in Watts that may be able to get us in a shelter, then Section 8 Housing. They also have no money for lunch. Nine children, the oldest fourteen, and quietly waiting for mothers to finish talking to the Preacherman. Both of these mothers have been in this predicament for six months. It is impossible to save money for first and last month rent. Both mothers have no children’s fathers or paternal grandparents to help. There are four fathers responsible for these nine children and three have not been seen for months, and one for five years. The squeeze on child welfare payments and federal food stamp EBT cards, has forced more and more mothers into monthly crisis. They rely on “flipping” their food stamps for cash to cover rent and utility short fall. This is always at half value, so there is always “no food on the table” the last week and a half of the month.
This past year we have seen more mothers in crisis without fathers than ever before. The reduction of government monies, plus increasing co-pays for medical care, leaves mothers little room for failure. Child Protective Services is always ready to take care of irresponsible mothers’ children, but we see little pressure being placed on absent fathers. At the street level, it is the right of young men to brag about their “baby mommies”. No one talks about the burden the mothers carry for these fatherless children. “Oh I love my children and I will do anything for them, but not today”, is the father’s constant reply when asked about the last time they saw one of their children.
Even with this dollar squeeze, we see a growing number of young mothers with two, three, four children walking in the inner city. Driving down the streets in the same neighborhoods, there is a mighty army of little children playing on the sidewalks in front of run down apartments. Who is reading to these children in the quiet evening hours, taking them on outings to see the bigger world, instilling beliefs that they can succeed and become “somebodies” even though all around them are the broken down, semi-drunk men whose bodies have begun to shut down. Who is talking to this increasing population of little ones about a God of love who will guide and inspire them. All they see is the frustration of hurting mothers, little food on the table, the cheapest of hand me downs for clothes, and no school supplies to start school. All they hear outside is the drumbeat of sexual madness, drug use, fights of young adults and sadly, death because of a love moment gone mad or drug deal gone sour. Then, and only rarely, comes a father and with him the short crisis-filled moments of anger, yelling and maybe physical violence.
Our message for mothers is to awaken to your beauty and how precious you are. Your children deserve your calm heart, a mind filled with hope and confidence that you, my child, are my most important business. Our message to young men is to man up, see yourself as a person filled with Jesus Answers, and if you have children, do what is responsible. To both mothers and fathers and young women and young men, in this mad world, the only survival plan is the “Jesus Survival Plan”. The real people are the Jesus People and the real guide book is the Book of Books, the Bible.
Though small, we have a steady stream of folk coming back to give testimony that their commitment to a Jesus Survival Plan, reading the Book, is providing a complete life change. They have their own apartments, their own refrigerators, some with meaningful employment, and a calm to their demeanor.
Our commitment also is to practice and demonstrate the transforming power of Jesus in our Basement Gatherings. We are working on being the Third Race. We are a people that is struggling to see one another without judgement and without race and gender. We are the “Jesus Third Race”. When you sit with us in our Gatherings, we are a people from the bottom of the social order of the US that has practiced all the evils of the street. We struggle to know that Jesus has buried our transgressions in the deepest sea and keeps them there. We struggle to see each other as equals. No one is better or worse than anyone else. We are patient with each other even though temptation to proclaim we really are better flows through our veins. We are the forgotten ones, the hand me down folk, those who should have done better, minds battered beyond belief while growing up and we have found the Basement Gathering. The homeless experience acceptance and the message of responsibility; “I can do better because I am now somebody even though still poor, homeless, and shunned and I am accepting the Jesus Survival Plan and joining the family of the Third Race.” I have taken this street message all over and all around.” Amazingly we get reports of our street creed from the strangest of places.
Talk about hard times, our Basement folk know about depending on government funds for survival and having those funds cut regularly and steadily. They’re told their health needs will now be taken care of more efficiently, yet they’re shuffled again and again from health provider to health provider. Yes, there is a hard core group of homeless who will always be homeless and they also need Jesus’ love and acceptance. Our message is that dependence on anything or anyone but the Jesus Survival Plan is sure and complete disappointment.
Thank you for thinking about us, praying for us, and knowing we are a blink of the eye in the mass of growing homeless folk that need a touch of something better. Yet we continue to be surprised by the power of the few to spread the message about the Basement Gatherings at 9th and Atlantic and the Jesus Survival Plan – doing something in the Name of Jesus before we die.
About Fred and Mardella Newkirk
Fred and Mardella Newkirk have been serving as missionaries to the inner city of Long Beach, California, for over 40 years. Fred is founder and director of Inner City Ministries (ICM), overseeing a multi-dimensional program. ICM provides encouragement through preaching and counseling to the poorest of the poor, young gang members, prostitutes, drug addicts and one-parent families. Several Bible studies provide the spiritual food to nourish new life. A weekly Sunday Evening Worship services is growing as God’s Word is being proclaimed in the “Basement Church.” Many, many lives have been and are being transformed!
The Newkirks have two grown children: Kandice and Kraig.
Fred – March 1
Mardella – November 22
P.O. Box 2627
Long Beach, CA 90801