By Jenny Gregory
CLEVELAND — “What are you passionate about, Cam?”
That question, and life-changing moment, will forever be etched in the mind of Cameron “Cam” Lee, senior Biblical counseling and psychology major at Truett McConnell University (TMU).
“I was a Christian studies major, and while studying for my finals at the end of my freshman year one of the librarians asked me what I was passionate about. She asked if I had ever been interested in counseling because it seemed to her something I was meant to do.”
After much prayer and wrestling with the idea, she changed her major to pursue a degree in psychology, a path that God continues confirm.
A change of perspective
“Since I was little,” said Lee, “I never wanted to visit in big cities because there is so much brokenness there. It was something that made me uncomfortable to see.”
That perspective changed during her senior year in high school, when she was approached by a homeless man.
“I remember the moment vividly. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and wanted to talk to him, pray for him, show him love. But I was afraid.”
It was in that moment that she realized her fear could potentially keep someone from hearing about the love of Christ, and she needed to step out of her comfort zone.
During her sophomore year at TMU, Lee worked with the World Missions Center to create the Homeless Move Team, one of the many local ministry teams developed to empower students to reach lost and hurting people locally.
“The Homeless Move Team grew from four, to now 30 students. We gather weekly to take sandwiches, cookies, and water to the homeless community in downtown Athens, Georgia. We pray for safety and opportunities to share the Gospel before heading out.
“In the beginning, we weren’t really accepted by the community. We also faced people with drug addictions and mental illnesses.”
Lee says, “Many recognize us now and are more open to conversation. Most are simply seeking companionship.”
They meet people with all types of backgrounds, including “those who have no family, veterans, human trafficking survivors, and people released from mental facilities with nowhere to go. It is heart-wrenching to hear their stories of how they ended up on the streets.”
When asked who the most memorable person was, immediately her face lit up.
“Mr. Chuck,” she said with a smile.
“I met Mr. Chuck in September of 2019. I will never forget him. He was listening to me share about Christ, and he cared so much about what I was saying.” Her new friend began sharing his life story during their first interaction.
“I was in tears,” she said. “I remember it being a super-overwhelming and chaotic night. But everything seemed to calm as he shared about his life. Mr. Chuck was in the army. He struggled with PTSD and lost the love of his life, his wife, many years ago, and soon turned to alcohol to help cope.”
Over time, a relationship grew between the team and Mr. Chuck. “It was quite interesting; he would always want me to read verses forwards and backwards. I would always do so, but I never understood why. He was always excited when I read the Bible, and I truly believe that he was a believer.”
Earlier this year, Lee learned of Mr. Chuck’s passing.
“I was wrecked,” she said. “It has been hard not seeing him when we go to Athens.”
Even through the loss of Mr. Chuck, Lee and her team continue to foster new relationships.
Her psychology courses have helped her to better understand some of the difficult situations the people within the homeless community face. “I have gained more compassion for those affected by mental illness, and my desire to encourage them.”
“The most difficult thing about this ministry,” she says, “is seeing many of the people still in the same position from when we first met them. So many have so much head knowledge about God, and they can quote Scripture, but they are lost.”
She says, “I find myself asking God, ‘When are they going to know You?’, but I know that’s not my decision, so I will continue to share His love to the homeless community.”
Growth within the team
“To observe the growth of our team is one of the most joyful parts of this ministry,” said Lee.
Chandler Ducker, who is an English major at TMU said, “I am an introvert, and this ministry has helped me be less nervous about speaking with new people.” Also, I was excited to watch students from other colleges reaching out to the homeless community.”
Lee is constantly reminded of Paul’s encouragement found in Corinthians. “The verse says, ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.’” She continued, “We are called to plant and to water. Many times, ministry comes across as a sweet and fun thing, and it is.”
“Yet, it can also be dirty, you will see heartache, and face uncomfortable moments, but as Christians, we are called to plant the seeds of the Gospel.”
Click here for more information on the Homeless Move Team.
Jenny Gregory is the Digital Content specialist for Truett McConnell University.