One afternoon in September of 2013, a dockworker named Shannon James was waiting at a stoplight when she felt a powerful nudge. It was as if God Himself was trying to get her attention. "Talk to him," she felt Him say.
She glanced at the homeless man standing on the center divider, and then at the red light, then back at the man. She'd just handed him some cash and her window was already rolled back up. Starting a conversation now would only be awkward. Besides, the light was going to change any second.
But the light didn't change. It remained red. Red. Red. Red. So Shannon relented, reluctantly, rolling her window back down with a heavy sigh. Then she dove in and engaged the man she'd already written off her list of things to do. Hi, I'm Shannon. What's your name? Where do you stay? Can I come and visit you there? What can I bring that would help you out?
He answered that his name was Chris, that he hung out at Lincoln Park, and it would be great if Shannon could bring food, and lots of it because there are a lot of hungry people there.
Chris' response blew Shannon's mind. This life-worn homeless man that she had already judged—this man she tried so hard to ignore—turned out to be more selfless than she could presently claim to be.
That brief interaction wrecked Shannon. Day and night, it was all she thought about. She cased out Lincoln Park until she could gather up enough nerve to go in. Once inside, she encountered another humble man named David, who used to be a journalist but was presently homeless. They sat on a short wall and talked deeply about life, faith, and hope. After that, Shannon was convinced Lincoln Park was where she was supposed to be. She kept returning to the park, handing out food, and meeting one more homeless friend after the next. Then she received an unsolicited donation from a friend and used the money to buy a vat of soup. With the help of a fellow dockworker named Sergio, Shannon served her first Monday morning soupline at Lincoln Park.
For the next year, Shannon and Sergio continued to serve the homeless at the park, not missing a single Monday. During those twelve months, more volunteers joined the cause, and as if by magic, donations came from every direction, and Beacon for Him Ministries was founded.
As the ministry grew, the Beacon Team continued to serve food and love to homeless men and women, but all wasn't well with the Lincoln Park soupline. Apparently, in certain parts of the country, it's illegal to be homeless, and the Beacon Team kept catching legal flack for serving food to the homeless in public. Besides that, the ministry was limited on the services they could provide in a park setting. Shannon has visions for doing more. She prayed desperately for a building.
Through an unimaginable series of events, Shannon did find a building, and on October 6th, 2014, Beacon For Him Ministries opened their doors of their multi-service center in the old church building at 439 Anaheim in Long Beach. For the first time, BFH was able to serve the homeless in a dignified setting, in a sanctuary filled with round tables and white tablecloths. Within a few short months, we transformed from a handful of renegades sneaking food to homeless men and women at Lincoln Park, to ever-growing army of volunteers and community partnerships. Every Monday, we open our soupline, Clothes Closet, and Library to the public. Weekly, we offer Meal Outreach, Bible Study and Celebrate Recovery. Through our partnership with The Branch, we also provide, church services, Food Bank, and prayer for the community.
Our ministry is a 100% volunteer organization. Our staff consists of both homeless and sheltered volunteers (including Chris!). We are grateful for how much this ministry has grown and we look forward to where this ministry leads us in the future.