Stanley & Liz | Permanent Camping
Liz and Stanley, two servant leaders at Veritas Community Church, have been living in a homeless camp near the Short North building. They came regularly to Veritas and formed a relationship with Emily Stiving and Amy Byler, who became their advocates.
Years ago, Liz made a tough choice. She left the comfort of her father’s house, escaping an addiction-fueling relationship, to live on the streets. Staying meant addiction. Leaving meant homelessness. Liz moved onto the streets, starting out under Mound and 270. While it was scary at first, Liz decided to call it “permanent camping.” Listen to the following audio clips to hear Liz and Stanley talk about surviving the streets, meeting each other, getting married, and coming to Veritas.
“I think of it as permanent camping…”
“Who’s that with the black eye? Oh, that’s just Liz.”
(please excuse the poor audio quality. Originally this was recorded only for note-taking)
Veritas Advocacy Model
Veritas assesses needs and finds solutions for chronic and crisis situations. The approach is holistic and relational. That’s where Amy Byler and Emily Stiving come in. They have worked tirelessly with Liz and Stanley, helping them find housing and employment. The model motivates its recipients to focus on specific tasks so they can work to improve their situation. In this time, Liz and Stanley have gone above and beyond to uphold their end. Stanley has stepped up to form a relationship with Liz’s son, Stanley and Liz reaffirmed their marriage vows, prayed for the church, worked towards employment, and even became temp janitors at Veritas.
By God’s grace, Liz has found employment and they have moved into their very own home. This is their first home together—-and the first time they’ve been housed in four years. Amy Byler and Emily Stiving are planning to have a mini Housewarming Party for them this Sunday (11/16). Please bring any items with you to church. They don’t have many (or really any) household items and furniture. Veritas would love to bless them in huge ways as a church family. Let Amy Byler (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you have any extra household items/furniture to drop off.
Liz and Stanley’s Advocates
I met Liz about 6 months to a year before she would meet with me. I had set up 3 different meetings with her, but she was always a ‘no show’. All of a sudden, after Stanley was back in her life, she asked to meet again. It was then we met and made a Plan of Action. They said their goals were to get a job and get a home (emphasis on not just a house). We always try to provide 1-2 support people from Veritas to walk along side individuals as they are meeting their goals and since Emily knew them already, she offered to help.They have taught me endless lessons about endurance, pain & suffering, and love.
I have grown to love Liz and Stanley so much. Being an advocate for them is something that happened to me in a lot of ways. I met Liz before I met Stanley. While they were still separated. I was always able to talk to Liz more easily than most. She was full of defense mechanisms and strategies used for survival, a hard exterior, but present, open, and engaging. Truly it was the work of the Lord that softened my heart to her, and then by association Stanley. Amy’s right that when Stanley came back into Liz’s life there was a change. And from countless hours talking to them about their lives, the change in their lives upon God saving them is so evident. God is redeeming their hearts and making them more and more into a couple after His own heart. This is the reason I am an advocate for them. Not because I love being called 9 times in a row while on a date with my husband. Not because mediating marital conflict via phone calls at 6:45am is my dream job. Not because they are the most convenient friends. But they are just that; my friends. And I love them. You make sacrifices for people that you love. I went with them to get Liz a dress and Stanley a shirt for their vow renewal. I watched as they both wept tears of joy when Liz walked down the aisle towards Stanley. My heart is invested in them living safely together, following Jesus together, and finding their joy, not in the stability of their circumstances, but in the steadfastness of our Father’s love for them.
Here’s a story about a moment that changed my heart. A few weeks after Liz and Stan started working at the church, intended to be a 4 hour a week commitment, they had been coming in every day. Working 15-20 hours a week. I kept reminding them as they would sign in on their time sheet, that we can only pay them for the agreed upon 4 hours. And I will never forget what Liz said to me. She looked at me and said, “Please let me keep working. I forgot how good it feels.” It stunned me. I felt the weight of the dignity that is taken from the homeless and jobless. And to watch that dignity and hope be restored… the beauty of it takes your breath away.
I’ve not given my life to ministry to the homeless. But I am committed to these two lives. Because these are individual people, not just a population. I will almost assuredly cry when we move them into a home. I plan to be there. I plan to go over for dinner. I plan to keep encouraging them to be in a Community Group. I plan to keep being their friend.
If you’d like to become an advocate for the homeless at Veritas, please contact Amy Byler at email@example.com
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