Mind of Christ Church hosts benefit concert
Mind of Christ Church hosted a benefit concert at 5 p.m. on Sept. 19 at Living Life housing (LLH). The purpose of the concert was to raise awareness and donations for LLH.
LLH is a faith-based, transitional housing program that provides its residents with a place to stay while giving them an opportunity to improve their lives from a spiritual, financial and educational perspective.
Pastor Rick Gettens, the senior pastor of Mind of Christ Church and director of LLH, founded the program. He said the concert served to increase the awareness of murder and homelessness rates in Lawton, as well as what he believed to be a spiritual void.
Gettens started by giving homeless people food and clothing. However, that didn’t solve the case of homelessness, because they kept on coming back. He saw an abandoned duplex being used wrongly and felt the need to convert the house for a better purpose.
“I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that we need to take these duplexes and turn them into a place of refuge, of peace,” he said.
Jeff Elbert, the youth minister at Mind of Christ Church and assistant director of LLH joined the church in 2013, said he doesn’t want to see a youth go through the hardship he went through.
“I saw exactly what he saw, and I bought into the vision. I am Lawton and Lawton is me,” Elbert said. “So what better to give back to the place that raised me but from a biblical and spiritual perspective to try and lead by example.”
He said the main goal of the LLH program is to give people a chance to improve their situations and better their lives by teaching them how to be better.
New residents who come into the program get help with assistance like Section 8 Welfare or food stamps. Elbert also said people should see it as a place to stay while having their lives start over.
“It is a faith based organization,” he said. “We require our tenants to follow a set of standards and rules in order to help them get to the next level. The end result is to have people transition from having nothing to having a house or a place to stay, a job, a driver’s license and have their debts paid off.”
Gettens recalled that LLH got off to a very rocky start with no sign of achieving its goal because of lack of financial support and the right resources.
“What kept me going is eventually the great person that came around me and started believing in the vision,” Gettens said. “What inspired me to push is because the bible says, ‘If you see your brother in need you help me. If one hurts, we all hurt and if we all rejoice we all rejoice.’”
According to Elbert, paying the mortgage, not having a lot of people around to help and the lack of financial support has been some of the main challenges of LLH.
“We are trying to find sponsors,” Elbert said. “Unfortunately we don’t have sponsors that would adopt homes, so we are coming up with different ways to raise money.”
Elbert said the cost of managing the housing program is high because residents come in new, without food, clothes or furniture. The residents begin living rent free to start the process of securing a job to pay their bills.
According to Gettens, they are praying that people accept Jesus as their savior.
“We are not here to give people fish,” Gettens said, “but to teach them how to fish, and we hope they will teach others how to fish as well.”
Elbert wants the concert to create more awareness for LLH.
“We are trying to tell as many people as we can that this program works,” he said. “It’s not all about the money but the awareness of the program.”
Dale Commander, one of the residents of the housing, retired from the military after five and a half years of service. He talked about how the program helped him get a place to stay. After leaving the military, Commander said he suffered from anxiety, depression and PTSD and alcohol and marijuana were affecting his wellbeing.
“One of my counselors told me that there is place that accepts homeless people,” he said. “I got interviewed and thereafter accepted, and I can say the program is great.”
LLH has shown impressive numbers turning in applications, but because of limited resources, only a few are accepted.
The program welcomes donations, and more information is available at www.mindofchristok.org.